Jun 13, 2024

Beermen, Bolts duke it out for 3-2 lead

BREACHING the 100-point mark for the first time Wednesday night, San Miguel Beer now intends to impose its game a lot more.

Meralco, for its part, has prepared itself for a tough, long haul, so much so that the Bolts aren't rattled by once again losing hold of the series lead.

Both are determined to pour it all and leave everything on the floor as they slug it out for the crucial 3-2 lead in their PBA Philippine Cup best-of-seven title playoff at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Friday.

Game time is at 7:30 p.m. with the Beermen determined to march forward following their 111-101 win in Game Four that sent the series to a virtual best-of-three.

Odds are back heavy on SMB's side with the Beermen dominating the last game and completing a wire-to-wire victory.

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But the Bolts aren't getting uncomfortable where they are now.

They're positive that they're very much in the battle, still in a position to pull the rug from under their mighty rivals.

"It's back to square one and it's our turn to punch back," said Meralco top gun Chris Newsome.

"We got a day of rest and then we're back at it Friday. It's going to be a grind-out for the rest of the series. We're going to have the energy, we're going to refocus, stay and get back to playing Meralco basketball," he added.

The Beermen, however, are keeping the same mindset of fighting on with their own brand of game that was in full glorious display Wednesday.

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Coach Jorge Gallent reinserted Terrence Romeo and Vic Manuel back in his rotation, and both responded, helping in SMB's massive attack that decimated Meralco's vaunted defense.

"We talked about trusting one another and sharing the ball. If we do that, our offense will come," said Gallent.

"And it showed in Game 4. We had 111 (points), this is the highest output in this series. So it's just the mindset of these players to trust one another and to share the ball. That's the philosophy.

"They were dictating the previous games because they were averaging 16 more shots than us. It was really hard to win if your opponent had that advantage," Gallent added.

For Meralco coach Luigi Trillo, it's about matching or beating the effort put up by June Mar Fajardo and his teammates in their series-equalizing feat.

And it could really be about the effort, determination and desire for both for the rest of the series. (SB)