EVEN before it starts pondering about making the PBA Governors Cup playoffs, Norman Black stressed Meralco needs to play consistent basketball first on both ends of the floor.
And the struggling Bolts need to do it right away beginning with their Friday match-up with expansion franchise Blackwater Elite at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Game time is at 4:15 p.m.
Compared to the Elite, who are at the bottom of the standings with a 1-4 record in the company of NLEX and defending champion Star Hotshots, the Bolts are in a better position with a 2-3 (win-loss) slate.
But that doesn’t mean they have to the take the Elite lightly owing to the way the rookie team played in its last two outings, according to Black.
“It’s a must-win for us if we want to make the next round,” said the Meralco coach.
“Blackwater played well in their last two games so it won’t be easy.”
High-scoring import Andre Emmett has been leading the team in scoring with his 37.0 points per game average, but Black wants to see the team play defense above all.
The Bolts gave up 96 points in their three losses in the season-ending tournament, compared to just 88-points-per game average in their two victories.
“We need to establish some consistency in our game, especially on defense,” explained Black.
Other than Emmett, Black hopes to get better ball movement in order to get two-time league scoring champion Gary David back in the scheme of things.
So far, ‘El Granada’ is averaging just 8.6 points per contest behind a frigid 20 percent shooting from the three-point zone.
The 36-year-old Meralco gunner scored in double-figure just once this conference after pumping 23 points in the Bolts’ 106-95 overtime win over San Miguel Beer.
“We must also improve our teamwork on offense because our ball movement has been stagnant,” he added.
The Elite, meantime, are coming off a heartbreaking 83-76 double-overtime defeat to fellow expansion team KIA Carnival.
Marcus Douthit, the team’s do-it-all import, struggled on offense against the Carnival’s shot-blocking reinforcement Hamady N’Diyae.
The naturalized Gilas big man took 22 attempts to score 16 points.
Still Black said they have devised a way to try to contain the 6-foot-11 Douthit with the Bolts expected to rely on their phalanx of big men led by Reynel Hugnatan, Danny Ildefonso, John Ferriols, and new boy Kelly Nabong.