WHETHER Meralco is for real or not is set to be known as the Bolts take on the San Miguel Beermen on Saturday when the PBA Commissioner’s Cup hits the road anew in Legazpi City.
The Bolts have been on a complete turnaround from a disastrous Philippine Cup campaign - where they finished dead last after winning just one of their 11 games - as they are still undefeated in their first five outings in the midseason tournament.
But the pacesetting Bolts, coming off a 96-88 win over GlobalPort last Sunday, face an acid test in the Beermen, who are coming off a historic all-Filipino conference title conquest and are starting to hit their stride, having won their last two games.
Tipoff for the Petron Saturday Special is at 5 p.m. at the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation.
Coincidentally, the Bolts are facing the same team that handed them their first loss in the last Commissioner’s Cup where they also started with five straight wins for their best start in franchise history.
Although they ended up reaching the semifinals for the first time in that conference, the Bolts felt they failed to reach their full potential.
“It’s going to be a very interesting contest,” Bolts coach Norman Black said ahead of the rematch.”
“We were never the same after that (loss),” added the Meralco mentor, now leaning on Arinze Onuaku. “Hopefully it doesn’t happen again.”
The Beermen test the mettle of the Bolts once again, riding the crest of a 108-96 victory over Blackwater in Antipolo last Wednesday.
“It’s a big game for us dahil ang Meralco, every game for them is very important, dahil gusto nilang makabawi after last conference na nasa bottom sila,” SMB coach Leo Austria said.
Import Tyler Wilkerson has been a force for the Beermen, while June Mar Fajardo is near tip-top shape.
“With June Mar slowly recovering his usual game, I think we have a good chance to be with them (Bolts) on top,” said Austria, whose team is running second with a 2-1 win-loss record.