September 30, 2017

Execution is the key in Meralco vs Star semi-final series

In a duel between two teams that thrive on playing tough defense, the battle could be determined by execution on offense.

That could well be the case in the Meralco-Star matchup in the PBA Governors Cup Final Four.

The Bolts, a team out to sustain a breakthrough run, and the Hotshots, hoping for a return to the top after their Triple Crown feat in 2014, start their best-of-five semi-final showdown at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at the Alonte Sports Arena in Binan, Laguna.

"It's a battle between two good defensive teams so execution on offense will be very important. We have to limit our turnovers because they score a lot off turnovers," said Meralco coach Norman Black.

"It's more of a defensive game since both teams are good on defense. We need to execute our game plan and give our best effort on both ends of the floor," said Star coach Chito Victolero.

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One big concern for the Bolts is Allen Durham's readiness.

"We will find out how he feels before the game," said Black of his prolific import who suffered an ankle sprain towards the end of their quarterfinal knockout setto with Rain or Shine Thursday.

Whatever is Durham's condition, the Hotshots are determined to come out strong and draw first blood in the series.

"Game One is always important in any series. We need to be mentally tough and physically ready," said Victolero.

Meralco topped Star, 95-90, in their elims matchup where Durham collected 29 points, 27 rebounds, seven assists, three blocks and one steal against four turnovers.

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But this is an entirely new game with the Hotshots now setting out with import Kris Acox.
And the Hotshots would enjoy a crucial edge if Durham won't be ready to play.

But the fact that Durham was able to return in the last four minutes of their KO game with Rain or Shine and help Meralco salvage the game, 104-96, makes the Bolts confident their import can play on.

"He said it's pretty bad, but the fact that he came back and played means that maybe it's workable," said Black.

The reigning Governors Cup Best Import insisted that he would be ready.

He's again the leading contender for the Best Import plum, averaging 27.8 points, 19.4 rebounds and 7.09 assists through the elims. His closest rival is TNT KaTropa's Glenn Rice Jr. who norms 32.8 points, 11.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists.