Bolts, Hotshots begin best-of-five semifinals

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Top seed Meralco and No. 4 Star begin their best-of-five semifinals series of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Season 42 Governors’ Cup today at the Alonte Sports Arena in Biñan, Laguna.

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Game 1 starts at 6:30 p.m.

Meralco had to dig deep in its quarterfinals encounter against the No. 8 Blackwater as the Bolts lost their twice-to-beat edge but regrouped in their do-or-die encounter to advance to the semis.

Meralco’s Allen Durham defends the ball against Alaska’s Sonny Thoss during the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. PBA MEDIA BUREAU

“It is a battle of two good defensive teams so executions on offense will be very important. We have to limit our turnovers because they score a lot on turnover points,” said head coach Norman Black, adding that import Allen Durham is not 100 percent in Game 1.

Durham sprained his right ankle in their 104-96 win over the Elite but finished the game.

“We still have to find out how he feels before the game,” Black added.

The reigning best import, who posted 18 points, 20 rebounds and nine assists in their tough victory over the Elite, said he is ready to play in Game 1.

“I’ll be ready for Sunday. I know Star play a lot better so we have to up our game in the series,” said Durham.

Besides Durham, Baser Amer exploded for 31 points in their do-or-die battle to deny a possible upset by Blackwater.

Amer has been impressive for the Bolts as the former San Beda College standout is averaging 14.8 points and 4.2 assists per contest.

Meanwhile, the Hotshots had the easier route to the semis as they beat No. 5 Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX), 89-77, last Tuesday to move to the best-of-five series.

Star coach Chito Victolero also expects a tough battle against the Bolts.

“Game 1 is always important in any series. We need to be mentally tough and physically ready for this game. It is more of a defensive game since both teams are No. 1 defensively. So we just need to execute our game plan and give our best effort on both ends of the floor,” said Victolero.

Import Kris Acox, who is averaging 18 points and 13.7 rebounds in only four games, is starting to blend well with his Star’s teammates.

Acox notched 21 points and 12 rebounds in that quarterfinals game against the Road Warriors.

The Star lost to Meralco in their lone elimination round battle, 90-96, with Malcolm Hill reinforcing the Hotshots in that match.

JOSEF T. RAMOS

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