MERALCO will be ready to play with an all-Filipino crew in Game Four of the PBA Governors Cup semifinals if the injured shoulder of import Mario West is serious enough to prevent him from suiting up.
Coach Ryan Gregorio said the Bolts are ready whatever the findings on the injury of West will be, although he admitted the task of winning the series -- and more so, advancing to the Finals – would be even more difficult under such circumstances.
“Yes (playing all-Filipino) if that’s what it takes because we don’t want to jeopardize the future of Rio (West’s nickname),” Gregorio said moments after the Bolts dropped an 87-94 loss in Game Three against San Mig Coffee Friday night, allowing the Mixers to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.
In his post-game talk with West, Gregorio learned the American already suffered a similar shoulder injury before.
“He sprained it so bad. He whispered to me, it happened to him before and so he was kind of upset,” Gregorio disclosed.
West went down with the injury following a hard collision with San Mig big man Joe Devance in the third quarter.
“If you take a look at that (collision with West and Devance), it was an obvious bump. But knowing Joe, he’s not a dirty player, that’s part of the game. But the damage has been done,” said Gregorio.
The outspoken Meralco mentor said it’s tough to play without West down the stretch as the team missed his leadership and game-long hustle.
“We lose an import in the third quarter in that kind of a foul? I’m certain it wasn’t intentional, but it’s something you don’t want to see even if you are on the opposite end,” said Gregorio, whose team lost the battle of the boards, 41-55.
West had 13 points, six rebounds, and three assists when he left game for good late in the third period.