Meralco eyes a place in the quarterfinals phase with a win against sister team TNT KaTropa in the opener of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Season 42 Governors’ Cup today at the Araneta Coliseum.
Coming off a long break, the energized Bolts square off with the KaTropa at 4:15 p.m. to be followed by the clash of San Miguel Beer and Rain or Shine at 7 p.m.
Meralco head coach Norman Black hopes their defense can neutralize the potent KaTropa squad
“We are coming off a long break so it will be interesting how we respond. The KaTropa are also coming off a loss, so they will be raring to bounce back. We will just focus on our defense and try to slow down the scoring TNT team,” said Black.
The 18-day break also allowed forward Cliff Hodge to rest his sprained ankle, giving them an extra fresh body against TNT’s high-scoring import Glen Rice, Jr.
A win by the Bolts will make them the third squad to reach the next stage after Barangay Ginebra San Miguel (6-1) and NLEX (7-2).
TNT coach Nash Racela said one of the keys to stop Meralco is to employ solid defense against Bolts import Allen Durham, who is averaging 25.8 points, 18. 1 rebounds and 7.1 assists in the tournament.
“Our success will depend on how well we defend Durham. Just have to try and make him uncomfortable,” said Racela, whose team is coming from a 112-119 loss to GlobalPort last week despite Rice’s 39-point explosion.
TNT is holding a 4-3 win-loss record.
Meanwhile, the Beermen try to arrest a two-game slide as they battle the streaking Elasto Painters.
San Miguel is coming off back-to-back losses to NLEX (100-103) and Alaska (79-90) resulting in a 3-3 record.
Beermen mentor Leo Austria is giving Terik Bridgeman a chance to prove his worth against Rain or Shine after a mediocre performance against the Aces.
Bridgeman had two points, six rebounds and six errors in his PBA debut.
Elasto Painters coach Caloy Garcia expects the San Miguel import to deliver.
“I think he (Bridgeman) is not a bad import because I watched his tapes and he’s really athletic and plays smart. I guess the short practice and the jetlag might be the reasons of his poor performance in his debut,” said Garcia.
The Elasto Painters are on a three-game winning streak including a 92-88 win over Star to improve their record to 4-2.