IT'S now Meralco's turn to show a long layoff has not affected it at all.
The Bolts return to action at 12:30 p.m. against dangerous Terrafirma Thursday with the former aiming to kickstart their stalled drive in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Currently at 10th, the Dyip are themselves gunning to snap out of a two-game slide while keeping alive their hopes of at least playing off for a quarterfinals slot, which would be realized if they sweep their last two matches and those teams immediately above them would get no more than five wins.
To enhance its chances, Terrafirma is suiting up Andreas Cahilig, who has sufficiently recovered from a sprained ankle early in an 84-96 loss to Phoenix Super LPG last Thursday. Without the do-it-all workhorse, the Dyip also bowed to NorthPort 84-104 two days later.
Meralco has its own agenda as well.
The Bolts are at second-running spot, one which they intend to keep so as to be able to avail of a top two finish at the end of the 11-game eliminations which will be rewarded with a win-once advantage over a lower-ranked team in the quarterfinals.
First, coach Norman Black's charges must show little rust from the enforced break they had to go through in accordance with the league's health and safety protocols.
Both TNT and NorthPort have already been through the same ordeal but showed little ill effects with the Tropang Giga now on top of the heap and the Batang Pier racking up three straight wins since their own break.
Meralco last saw action Sept. 3, a 76-91 loss to TNT and rebounding from that defeat is additional motivation.
Key for the Bolts is how their defense, which usually holds opponents to a shade under 83 points, holds up while Chris Newsome, Mac Belo, Nards Pinto, Allein Maliksi, Raymond Almazan and Reynel Hugnatan are sure to set the tone in their offense.
How Juami Tiongson, who averaged 18.8 points in Terrafirma's back-to-back upset wins over San Miguel Beer and Barangay Ginebra but only 9.0 points in the Dyip's last three games, regains his fiery touch and complement the likes of Aldrech Ramos and Roosevelt Adams should also a big factor. (NC)