Norman Black braces for tough stand by shorthanded Star as Meralco goes for semis sweep
Coach Norman Black and the Bolts look to seal a spot in the finals while Chito Victolero and the Hotshots hope to extend their season. Jerome Ascano 

MERALCO braces for a tough stand by a shorthanded Star as the Bolts shoot for a sweep of their PBA Governors’ Cup semifinal series on Thursday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

After pulling off a come-from-behind six-point win in the best-of-five series opener and convincing 24-point blowout in Game Two with both games played in Laguna, the Bolts try to finish off the Hotshots in Game Three.

Gameetime is 7 p.m.

“We don’t expect them to give up, that’s for sure,” Bolts coach Norman Black said. “We expect them to come out fighting, we expect them to continue to put pressure on our offense, full-court, to try and take us out of our offensive schemes.”

The Hotshots, however, are missing the services of star guard Paul Lee, who’s out for the series due to a recurring knee injury that forced him to play just three minutes in Game Two last Tuesday in Sta. Rosa.

Still, Black expects the Chito Victolero-mentored Hotshots to put up a worthy challenge to stay alive in the series.

“I’ve coached against coach Chito since the college days, so I know his teams are always well-prepared and they’re well-motivated,” Black said. “So we’re going to have to play our best basketball to beat them in Game Three.”

“At this point in the season, that’s what it’s all about: you have to play at a high level, a quality level of basketball if you want to win a championship or you want to make it to the championship,” he added as the Bolts are a win away from a return trip to the finals.

Allen Durham anchors the Bolts’ attack again, while the Hotshots expect a better offense from reinforcement Kristofer Acox to avoid a sweep.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos