Meralco and Alaska will dispute the last finals seat in a do-or-die Game 5 of the best-of-five semifinals of the Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Commissioner’s Cup at 7 p.m. tonight at the Araneta Coliseum.
After forcing a rubber match by winning Game 4 last Monday (86-70), coach Norman Black and the Bolts are preparing their offensive and defensive strategies.
“It is more executing the plays, so it comes down to our execution in Game 5,” Black, a former PBA best import, told reporters. “We have to worry what will happen tomorrow [Wednesday] and not what happened before. We have to win Game 5.”
“We should give what we could give and let’s see what will happen. Energy is my No. 1 concern. Coming out in Game 5, we should be hungry. I’m hoping my players will sustain all their efforts in Game 5,” added Black.
The Bolts will bank on the prowess of veterans Jared Dillinger, Reynel Hugnatan and Jimmy Alapag with the support of Cliff Hodge, Anjo Caram, Bryan Faundo, Chris Newsome, Amer Baser, Kenneth Bono and the 6-foot-8 import Arinze Onuaku.
“We have to exert better effort than what we did tonight within 36 hours,” said the playmaker Alapag, who finished with mere six points in Game 4. “I’m ready to give what coach needs me to do. It’s 48 minutes of basketball to get there in the finals. I’m looking forward to it.”
Dillinger posted 17 points in their last game including a three-pointer at the end of third period.
“I’m confident my team will go to the championship. Defense will play a major part in Game 5 and we have to sustain it. We are ready for Game 5,” said Onuaku, who notched 16 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks in Game 4.
Alaska, on the other hand, will rely on import Robert Dozier, Chris Banchero, Calvin Abueva, RJ Jazul, Dondon Hontiveros, Nonoy Baclao, Sonny Thoss and Cyrus Baguio to book their second straight finals appearance.
The winner between Meralco and Alaska will face Rain or Shine in the best-of-seven finals that will begin on Friday at the Araneta Coliseum.
JOSEF T. RAMOS