Jun 08, 2024

Beermen, Bolts break 1-1 deadlock in Sunday tiff

FROM a split of two hard-fought battles, titleholder San Miguel Beer and challenger Meralco duke it out again Sunday, disputing the crucial 2-1 lead in their PBA Philippine Cup best-of-seven title showdown at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Bolts came to within few seconds of a 2-0 series lead but blew the golden opportunity and have to regroup and refocus in what could be a continued toe-to-toe face-off with the Beermen.

Coach Luigi Trillo's Bolts barely squeezed through, 93-86, in Game One then coach Jorge Gallent's Beermen just stole the game in the end in Game Two, 95-94.

Far from convincing either was the Bolts' 95-92 victory in their elims showdown.

And they go at it again in Game Three starting at 6:15 p.m. with both sides bracing up for another down-to-the-wire dispute.

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"We know it's going to be grind-out games the whole series and we can't just come out and expect they're going to roll over," said SMB wing man Marcio Lassiter, who fired the lethal trey foiling Meralco's crack at 2-0 and instead forging the 1-1 tie.

"They're a good team. That's why they're in the finals. They're well-coached. Now we have to make adjustments, everything that we need to do (to beat Meralco). It's going to be continuously tough games here on out since it's tied, too," he added.

The Bolts see silver lining in narrowly losing Game Two.

"I'm pretty confident in the way we're playing right now, and I feel like if we stick to the game plan, we'll have a chance every game," said Cliff Hodge, Meralco's No. 1 energy guy in the first two games.

"So like we've said, it's going to be a long series; just forget about the loss and know that we all played hard. We'll be ready for Sunday," he added.

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No team has taken full control in the first two games, though, the Bolts seemed to set the pace for a good part in Game One, then the Beermen looked to have made the right adjustments and took away some of the Bolts' strong points.

"We had 17 turnovers and they outscored us (off transition)," noted Trillo, referring to SMB's eight more 20 fastbreak points in Game Two.
It would be remembered that the Bolts scored more off the breaks in the series kickoff.

"That's kind of an improvement from Game One to Game Two. But Meralco's a tough team. They really grind hard and their energy is really high. So we have to match it and as I always tell them, we really have to play 48 minutes of basketball," said Gallent.

"These types of games, you have to move on. Quick goodbye, focus na kami (next game). At this point, you want to be clinical, not critical," said Trillo, for his part.(SB)