Meralco eyes semis berth as it tries to finish off sluggish NLEX
Norman Black and the Meralco Bolts are looking to make it back to their first semifinals appearance since 2013. Jerome Ascano

SMELLING blood, Meralco tries to finish off NLEX when they face off in Game Two of their PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals series on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Fresh from a 97-82 whipping of the Road Warriors, the Bolts go for the clincher as it try to advance to the semifinals for the first time since the 2013 Governors Cup.

The Bolts though are expected to miss veteran Jared Dillinger who sustained a knee injury during the early goings of the series opener.

Back up gunner Mark Macapagal, who scattered 22 points, a two-year personal career-best, will hopefully reprise his role and help out resident shooter Gary David and import Joshua Davis on the offensive end.

“It’s a challenge to win Game Two. Hopefully, we can build on our win Friday night,” said Meralco coach Norman Black, whose team closed the single-round eliminations by losing five of its last six games.

Game time is at 5:15 p.m.

Meralco will again concentrate on hounding NLEX prolific import Al Thornton, who despite scoring 23 points, shot horrendously from the field (2-of-13) in Game One.

Black credited the team’s overall defense for denying Thornton good looks to the basket.

“We got a good total team effort on defense against (Al) Thornton. Nobody can defend him individually. We have to rotate, recover and close out. So many things involved and we did a good job,” said Black.

For NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez, it’s now a matter of bouncing back strong in the hope of forging a do-or-die game on Tuesday.

For that to happen, ageless man-mountain Asi Taulava, a consistent double-double performer in NLEX’s franchise-best five-game winning streak during the tailend of the eliminations, will also have to play aggressively after coming off an anemic five-point, six-rebound effort in Game One.

Veterans Nino Canaleta, Jonas Villanueva, and Mac Cardona also need to chip in on offense to make the load lighter for Thornton.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @richava