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    COLUMN: Meralco left seeking answers as Bishop silenced by Magnolia D

    Mar 24, 2022
    The Meralco Bolts were beaten black and blue in Game One.
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    CHICAGO - It was around 9:25 pm when he finally made it home after leaving the Mall of Asia Arena, the scene of a minor collapse where his team regurgitated a 33-16 lead on the way to a 94-80 loss.

    Thus, Wednesday evening quickly turned dark and dismayed for Meralco head coach Norman Black.

    And because his job requires constantly reliving nightmares, his agony was likely to linger until the small, wee hours of Thursday.

    Asked what happened to Tony Bishop, the 11-time champion coach, who pulled a grand slam feat in 1989, reserved judgment.

    "I will watch the game in a while. I will analyze it and see how we can make things easier for him," Black told me.

    In a rare hiccup, Bishop descended from mighty to mortal and was held to 10 points on 5-of-19 shooting from the field. Bishop missed all 6 of his 3s and walked in a daze of 5 turnovers.


    "Their whole team did a good job on me," Tony, in a separate phone interview, told me about the traps and the plethora of defensive schemes Magnolia threw at him during his 40-minute, 40-second outing.

    "I have to keep being aggressive. I have to simply be better overall," he added after a muted effort nobody saw coming from a leading Best Import candidate.

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    Down 0-1 in a best-of-five series, the rest of the bleeding, hurting Bolts also need to be better if they want to reach the Governors' Cup Finals.


    Against a team that once vanquished him to Phoenix, Chris Banchero did well and filled the box score with 16 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists while Bong Quinto sizzled with 13 points in relief play.

    It just wasn't enough for a Meralco team that made only 32 of 79 field goals (40 percent) and went 7-of-25 from long distance (28 percent).


    The Bolts were terrific on the boards, outworking Magnolia, 54-47. Unfortunately, Meralco had as many turnovers as assists at 16 while the Hotshots were more efficient with only 9 miscues against a robust 21 dimes.

    Magnolia didn't exactly light up like the Golden State Warriors, a mere 9-of-33 from 3 (27 percent) and 36 of 86 overall (41 percent), but their offense wielded a little more punch and balance.

    Import Mike Harris poured in 26 points in a turnover-free performance that saw the former Houston Rocket net 16 rebounds and 4 assists in 40:56 of play,

    Paul Lee swished three 3s and finished with 13 points; Jio Jalalon sprung off the bench with 15; and Calvin Abueva soldiered on for 12 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists despite being under a stern minutes restriction.

    After taking a 43-35 halftime lead, Meralco scored only 37 in the second half while surrendering a torrid 59 to Magnolia, which feasted on 11 fastbreak points and 44 inside the paint.


    Finding out answers behind the disparity of their outputs between the two halves will guide coach Black as he explores the mystery of his team's staggering Game One collapse.

    Heading into Friday's Game Two, the math may have shortened for Meralco. But it has gotten more complicated.

    Instead of beating the Hotshots just three times in five games to advance, the Bolts must now win 3 of the next four.

    Obviously, it's an acute angle, especially against a group of Hotshots who bring so much turbulence with their unrelenting, physically-imposing defense.

    But the Bolts have the three magnificent Bs - Bishop, Banchero and Black - and it will be fun to watch them try to beat the odds.

    FANS BRING FUN AT SPIN POV EPISODE. Two fans randomly chosen to participate in a SPIN POV episode last Tuesday turned out to be quite a revelation.

    Listening to Miguel Delfin and Rom, a Communication Arts student at Letran, left me wildly impressed with their knowledge of the PBA, their command of the facts, and the objectivity they showed despite openly their confessed allegiance to Ginebra.



    If you choose to pursue a career in this business, Miguel and Rom. I think you both will do great.

    You already have the talent and the smarts. You just need to supplement those gifts with hard work.

    We are now on Quento! Download the app to enjoy more articles and videos from SPIN.ph and other Summit Media websites.

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    The Meralco Bolts were beaten black and blue in Game One.
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