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    Tough Meralco defense faces test against San Mig in semis

    Sep 28, 2013

    MERALCO coach Ryan Gregorio believes team defense has brought the Bolts to the franchise’s first-ever semifinal appearance since joining the PBA in 2010 and they don’t intend to change the approach as they seek a spot in the title series in the PBA Governors Cup.

    The Bolts try to continue their quest for a first-ever Finals appearance when they collide with San Mig Coffee in Game One of their best-of-five semifinal series at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

    Game time is 6:45 p.m.

    “We worked so hard to be in this situation (semifinals). Not a lot of people predicted that we will snatch one of the four slots (and twice-to-beat incentive) in the semis,” said Gregorio, heading into
    the series-opener.

    “But we are conscious on why we are here. Our defense brought us here, and the same toughness will bring us to the next level.”

    The Bolts have held their opponents to just 84.4 points per contest this conference.

    The Mixers, who have more firepower due to the presence of former two-time MVP James Yap, Peter June Simon and import Marqus Blakely, are doing the same thing this conference, limiting the opposition to just 87.6 points per game.

    San Mig managed to snatch the last semifinal ticket after beating Alaska in the sudden death quarterfinal on Friday, 83-73.

    “We’ve got a tough road ahead.  There’s no easy roads in the playoffs, only the hard way,” said Mixers coach Tim Cone, whose team is expected to miss the services of sophomore swingman Allein Maliksi, who twisted his left knee early in the second period of Friday’s game.

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    “They (Bolts) are the darkhorse right now. Their line up is solid. As long as Cliff Hodge and Reynel Hugnatan are playing well, they have a real shot (at winning the semis) because they are playing very well,” added the San Mig mentor.

    Gregorio said they are motivated to get back at the Mixers, who dealt the Bolts a heart-breaking 87-86 decision at the end of the single round eliminations.

    “We lost by one possession against them. Mentally, we know we can compete, but we have to make the easy shots  like fastbreak points, free throws (made) and point blank shots,” explained Gregorio, who
    won all of his three PBA championships with the San Mig/Purefoods franchise before joining Meralco in 2010.

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