THEY’VE gotten this far, so might as well keep going.
Meralco takes its resurgence further as it battles Alaska in the semifinals one last time for a spot in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals on Wednesday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Bolts are at the height of a monumental turnaround, on the cusp of reaching the championship round for the first time ever after finishing at the bottom in the Philippine Cup where they lost all but one of their 11 games.
After dragging the Aces to a deciding game in the best-of-five series following an 86-70 victory in Game Four last Monday, the Bolts seek to continue their impressive run and arrange a finals showdown against Rain or Shine.
“It’s important that we’re fresh, energized, and hungry, and if we accomplish those things, then we might have a good chance of winning,” Bolts coach Norman Black said ahead of the rubber match that tips off at 7 p.m.
Arinze Onuaku anchors the Bolts, who, however, are facing an Aces side that has gone to the finals for two conferences in a row and three over the last four, and are led by import Rob Dozier and Best Player of the Conference candidate Calvin Abueva.
“They definitely have the advantage as far as that’s (experience) concerned,” Black admitted. “They certainly know how to play in big games.”
“But it doesn’t really matter at this point,” the champion coach was quick to add. “We’ll just give everything we have and see what happens.”
Jared Dillinger, who spearheaded the Bolts’ attack in Game Four, believes this is the best chance for his team to advance to the title series after failing in their last three Final Four stints in their six seasons in the league.
The Bolts bowed to the Elasto Painters, who swept them in three games in the last seasons’ midseason tournament, the last time they made the Final Four.
“I got hurt and Josh Davis got hurt, so it’s a little different this season, everyone’s healthy and everyone’s on the same page,” Dillinger said. “It helps having Jimmy (Alapag) to carry the load and calm everyone down.”
“We’re believing,” he added. “We believe we can win and we’re ready to go. We know what we need to do.”