RYAN Gregorio was quick to forgive Meralco for losing the opener of its PBA Governors Cup semifinal series against San Mig Coffee on Sunday night. The Bolts, afterall, are in their first ever Final Four stint and it’s understandable for them to struggle a bit in the spotlight.
But come Game Two of the best-of-five affair Tuesday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum, Gregorio expects the Bolts to compete from start to finish.
“No excuses in Game Two. We’ll definitely come out stronger in Game Two, and we’ll just find a way,” said the outspoken mentor following the Bolts’ 83-73 loss to the Mixers. “It’s excusable for us to play that way in Game One obviously because we’re not used to it.”
Gregorio admitted the Mixers effectively defended the lane very well, making it difficult for import Mario West to score inside. West was held to a PBA career-low of nine points behind a 3-of-16 shooting from the field.
San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone admitted holding down West and Meralco’s shooters was a major factor in the win which the Mixers pulled off by rallying from a 10-point third-quarter deficit.
“It was a great defensive battle as both teams are really good defensively,” said Cone. “Our defense created some stuff for us and that was key.”
"I don’t think this is going to be a pretty series. This is going to be a series of attrition."
Gregorio noted the failure of Meralco’s gunners to hit their shots, which the Bolts need to do to stretch San Mig Coffee’s defense.
The Bolts attempted 28 from beyond the arc and converted only eight for a paltry 28.6 percent shooting.
“We have to get our guns going from the outside, loosen up the paint a little bit so that Mario can get his space inside,” stressed Gregorio.
Still, the Meralco coach believes the Bolts remain in the hunt for a maiden Finals berth in franchise history despite the Game One loss.
‘But this is a series. Nobody wins a best-of-five series without winning three games,” said the Meralco mentor.