IF only imports can play in an all-Filipino conference.
That’s probably Meralco coach Norman Black’s wish as the Bolts’ tailspin in the PBA Philippine Cup remained unabated on Friday after surrendering to GlobalPort, 97-89.
The Bolts suffered a fourth straight setback to fall to a 2-5 win-loss record – undergoing a familiar scenario like the one they went through in the last edition of the all-Filipino tournament where they finished with 10 losses in 11 games.
With the entry of American big men Arinze Onuaku and Allen Durham as their reinforcements, the Bolts enjoyed a resurgence in the Commissioner’s Cup and Governors’ Cup, respectively.
But back in the Philippine Cup, the Bolts are facing the same problem – a lack of a legitimate threat in the post.
“The reality of it is, let’s be honest, we did very well in the second and third conferences because I had the best imports,” Black said. “The imports we got filled in the needs which is the center position. Take those two guys away, Arinze and Allen Durham, and we still haven't filled the center position, we're still the same.”
Against the Batang Pier, Reynel Hugnatan and Cliff Hodge, who grabbed just five rebounds each, stood as the Bolts’ last line of defense.
“We always seem to have a hole in the middle as far as being able to protect the rim and control the rebounds, and it's just the way it is,” Black continued. “Of course, it's not the end of the season yet, we still have two conferences coming up so we'll see what happens.”
Black, though, stressed they aren’t giving up on this all-Filipino conference just yet.
“We'll continue to try to get better in this conference and see if we can start winning some games and not get eliminated.”
“But we have inherited some weaknesses in this team that other teams don't have as far as personnel is concerned and the reality is that's just the way it is,” the champion coach was quick to add. “You try to do the best with the personnel you have.”