Oct 14, 2021

Meralco battle ready as Magnolia takes another shot to get job done

MERALCO has twice dodged a killer blow by Magnolia Ang Pambansang Manok in their PBA Philippine Cup best-of-seven semifinals duel at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.

The Bolts aim to use their evasive powers to the full anew Friday when they clash with the equally-determined Hotshots.

For sure, Magnolia would come out with all cylinders firing and should be as aggressive on both ends as his team, according to Meralco coach Norman Black.

"I know it's going to be difficult. Magnolia is going to be really ready for us next game, but we just have to do it one more time," said Black after Meralco's 102-98 win in Game 5 that narrowed their deficit in the best-of-seven series at 2-3.

"I think we have to take the same attitude again Friday night: do-or-die. There are no tomorrows for us," added Black.

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That Meralco mindset first paid dividends in Game 3, when it carved out a 91-86 win to avoid falling into a very deep 0-3 hole in which only one team in the league's 46-year history has ever dug itself out of.

Then came last Wednesday's game, when the Bolts gave what top scorer Allein Maliksi termed as their "best effort" to live and fight another day.

That Game 5 win also jacked Meralco's record to 2-0 in do-or-die games this year, counting the third and deciding game of its quarterfinal duel with NLEX.

In fact, Meralco has been 5-1 in no-tomorrow games since last year, its only loss coming to eventual champion Ginebra in last year's Clark bubble semis, and only through a buzzer-beating Scottie Thompson 3 in the deciding Game 5.

For Black, it's all about displaying the same intensity and energy so that his charges could at least extend the series to the full route on Sunday.

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"We can't really think about confidence or be too happy with the wins," insisted Black. "Instead, we have to focus in on what we have to do, simply to beat Magnolia again."

In fact, related Black, his team didn't dwell too much on the X's and O's going to Game 5. "The one good thing about this game is, we didn't make many adjustments coming into this game," he offered.

"We just played a little bit better than what we played the last game and we were able to stay in the game with our perimeter shooting. If we can shoot the ball well on Friday, I think we'll also have a good chance of winning that game." (NC)