Is Meralco tanking games to get shot at Kiefer Ravena in PBA draft? 'That's absurd'
Kiefer Ravena leads a bumper crop of top players set to join the next PBA draft. Jerome Ascano

NORMAN Black let out a hearty laugh when asked the question over the phone, and the Meralco coach asked that it be repeated just to make sure he heard it right.

Is Meralco tanking games to get the best shot at Kiefer Ravena in the next PBA Rookie Draft?

As absurd as the thought sounded to Black, accusations that the Bolts are deliberately losing games to improve their draft place - and consequently get a shot at getting Ravena - have gotten a lot of mileage on social media.

That the Bolts turned from bad to worse towards the end of the PBA Philippine Cup and finished with the league's worst record of 1-10 (win-loss) only served to bolster the conspiracy theory.

Black, though, was quick to put out the fire before it could spread.

"We're losing games because we've been bad," a bemused Black told on Friday. "We never really established a chemistry during the campaign and the coaches including myself are to blame for that.

"But for us to deliberately lose games just so we can get a high draft pick, that's not true," he continued, trying to maintain his composure. "All my career, I've never gone into a game thinking not to win."

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Meralco's woeful campaign maybe among the worst in Black's career, but the multi-titled coach doesn't expect the slide to continue in the mid-season Commissioner's Cup where he expects a good import to fill the holes in the Bolts' lineup.

Two things stand out in Black's mind: One is Meralco's lack of a 'rim defender;' the other is the absence of a go-to guy in the endgame, the reason, he said, the Bolts lost their last seven games in the fourth quarter.

To date, Black said he has five names on his wish list for an import in the Commissioner's Cup. Among them is Josh Davis, the athletic import who led the Bolts to the playoffs in this same conference this season.

Problem is, Davis is playing in a league elsewhere.

As for the chances of getting his former star at Ateneo in the draft, Black, who won five championships with Ateneo in the UAAP including two with Ravena, said that is farthest from his mind right now.

"Actually, there are a lot of good players coming out next year. It's not just Kiefer, there's also Rayray Parks and Mac (Belo)," he said. 'But we can't be thinking about that now." 


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