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    Meralco import Johnny O'Bryant's future hangs in the balance

    Oct 19, 2022
    johnny o'bryant
    PHOTO: PBA IMages

    MERALCO coach Norman Black admitted the team is already pondering on whether to stick with Johnny O’Bryant or let him go after he underperformed on Wednesday in the Bolts’ loss to Phoenix Super LPG.

    The 29-year-old O’Bryant fired blanks during Meralco’s 89-82 defeat against Phoenix, shooting just 2-of-17 from the field to finish with seven points.

    [READ: Resurgent Phoenix makes it a hat-trick of wins]

    Black said the coaching staff has weighed the future of O’Bryant with the team.

    “Actually, we’ve been talking about it,” said Black, when asked if they are sticking with O’Bryant after his struggles on Wednesday. “But obviously, you don’t want your import scoring seven points. Give you almost no chance of winning. Doesn’t help that we were missing key players.”

    Entering the Phoenix contest, O’Bryant was averaging 29.8 points and 16 rebounds but couldn’t bring Meralco to victories.

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      In the previous game against Converge, O’Bryant was saddled with four fouls right in the first half. He did come alive in the second only for the Bolts to lose to the FiberXers despite his 27-point performance.

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      O’Bryant’s struggles compounded the woes of Meralco, which was already missing Chris Newsome and Chris Banchero.

      Black said the game plan against Phoenix was to pound the ball inside to O’Bryant as Meralco expected the opponent to pressure their guards due to the injuries to Newsome and Banchero. The Fuel Masters did pressure, but O’Bryant couldn’t connect, making just 1-of-9 from two-point range.

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      The Louisiana State U product did worse from afar, making only one of his eight threes in the game.

      “I was hoping that his performance would go up during this stretch when we are waiting for guys to return from injury. But he’s been having problems shooting the ball from the perimeter which I think is one of his strengths. But he hasn’t shot the ball well,” said Black.

      Meralco will have little time to make major adjustments before facing Rain or Shine on Saturday. There is also little time for an import change.

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      “We’ll see what happens. We have a game on Saturday. I’m not sure how much we can do between now and then," said Black, one of the most prolific PBA imports during the league's early years.

      "But certainly, I have to sit down with Johnny and make him understand that he has to raise his level of performance because he is an import and a lot more is expected from an import."

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