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    Black wonders what could've been had Meralco fielded full-strength squad

    Nov 17, 2018
    PHOTO: edward solo

    MERALCO coach Norman Black offered no excuses on the exit of the Bolts in the PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals.

    The Bolts ended their run in the season-ending conference with three straight losses including a 99-92 defeat against Alaska in Game Four on Saturday at the Cuneta Astrodome.

    Black said the Bolts just lost to the better team, shrugging off the notion that fatigue or injuries to key players were the reason behind the defeat.

    “No excuses. Alaska was the better team,” Black said. “They deserved to be in the championship. No excuse about fatigue or anything of that matter. You know our story. Missing players, some of them are hurt. It’s okay.”

    The entire Meralco season actually saw injuries to Ranidel De Ocampo, Jared Dillinger, and Cliff Hodge with Dillinger and Hodge still fresh from recovery in this recent playoff run by the Bolts.

    “It’s hard to evaluate because we’ve never been healthy. Key players have bene missing the whole year. Ranidel didn’t play almost the whole year, JD (Dillinger) was out for majority of the year, Cliff was out for majority of the year. He is a key player. They are the starters. Luckily for me, some of the other guys stepped up in our campaign to make it competitive. But it would be nice to see what we could do with a very healthy team,” Black said.

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    The Bolts steamrolled through the semifinals after winning seven straight games, six of which were do-or-die matches, mainly through import Allen Durham. Prior to that winning run, Meralco had a six-game losing streak.

    But Black admitted the Bolts were in for a tough match-up against Mike Harris with Alaska.

    “I’m proud of the fact that they kept fighting. They never gave up. Let’s face it. Coming up to this point, winning those seven straight games, normally we had a bigger advantage as far as imports were concerned. AD outplayed the other guys. This series, that was not the case. Harris was more on power, a lot better. When it comes down to the locals, manpower-wise we were a little bit short,” Black said.

    “Congratulations to Alaska. Wished them the best of luck. We played hard, but we came up short,” he added.

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    PHOTO: edward solo
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