MERALCO may have fallen short in its first trip to the PBA Finals, but coach Norman Black sees a bright future for these rising Bolts.
And besides, the team has nothing to be ashamed of after giving Barangay Ginebra a run for its money before winning the PBA Governors Cup championship.
“I’m very proud of what the players have done in this tournament,” said Black, minutes following Meralco’s 91-88 defeat in Game Six of the finals on Wednesday night, watched by a roaring crowd of 22,528 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“I wanted to keep your heads up because the All-Filipino probably starts in one month,” added Black, recalling what he told the players inside the gloomy Meralco dugout. “We don’t really have time to put our heads down. We have to get a little bit of rest and start preparing for the next conference.”
There was no one to blame for the Bolts losing the title series, 4-2, that ended with what Black described as a ‘huge (three-point shot) by Justin Brownlee’ at the buzzer.
“It was a three-pointer at the buzzer so there’s not much we can do about it,” said the veteran mentor.
Black lamented the Bolts still had a foul to give, which they unfortunately, failed to utilize.
“That was the instruction and we did not, and that cost us the game,” said Black.
But instead of crying over spilt milk, the Meralco coach focused on the positive and thanked all the players for the effort they’ve done in the season-ending conference, including Best Import Allen Durham.
The Bolts, seeded No. 4 heading into the playoffs, were hardly on the radar of most pundits, yet led the Kings not just once but twice during the course of the series.
“My talk to them was basically very positive because at this point you can’t be negative about it. We can’t bring it back,” stressed Black.
“I want to thank all of them for all the effort that they’ve put in and for the run that we went on this conference,” he said. “I think it was very unexpected by most people that we’ would be in this position right now.”