An embarrassed Meralco coach Norman Black exhorted the Bolts to return to their roots - defense - and exert greater effort as they fight for dear life in the PBA Governors' Cup finals well under the control Barangay Ginebra.
The Bolts found themselves in a deep 1-3 hole after yielding Game 4, 72-94, coming off an 84-92 setback in the previous match and Black pointed to their lack of defense and effort as the main culprit.
"We have to play harder (in Game 5)," said Black.
"If you analyze basketball, you can't focus on little things if you can't solve big things. In other words, if you can't get back on defense it's hard for you to focus on pick and roll defense, post defense. It's something we had not struggled with this entire conference but we're struggling with it right now the last two games. So just have to do a better job on transition and halfcourt defense.
"And I wanna see more effort," he added.
The PBA's Mr 100 Percent during his playing years, Black was understandably upset with the way the Bolts were outworked by the Gin Kings.
"With the effort we displayed, we didn't deserve to win the game. Ginebra outhustled us and outplayed us so I'm a little bit embarrassed with the way the team played, the effort we gave. For me it's an embarrassment to the PBA that we came out and didn't give them a better fight," said the two-time Best Import awardee and grand slam-winning coach.
Black cited the so-called hustle stats, which clearly showed Ginebra outworking them in terms of contesting two-point shots (14-10), contesting three-pointers (6-4), deflections (20-16), and looseball recovery (24-14) in Game 4. He said it was essentially same story in Game 3.
"These hustle stats tell the entire story - we got beat very, very badly for the second game in a row in the hustle stats. We have to do a better job to represent the company and represent the league," he said.
"We couldn't get back on defense, couldn't stop them on half court, they pretty much do whatever they want to do. As a basketball coach I'm a little bit embarrassed by it. As I told the players, we only have two choices at this point - either pull together and come back and fight on Friday or we may be in for the same.
"So we just have to figure out a way to bounce back from this and play better basketball coz for me, this was an embarrassment," he said.
It didn't help that Meralco didn't have a fully healthy big man Raymond Almazan, who played through a lateral meniscul tear on his left knee.
"You don't want to have an injury to a key player in the middle of a championship series. Obviously we were very competitive when he was there and since he got hurt, we haven't been as competitive at all.
"I don't wanna make excuses, though, It is what it is. You can figure out he's an important cog in our machine and right now he's not playing 100 percent and it's really affecting the team but other guys should be able to step up and take his place or at least play better basketball than we played Wednesday," he said. (OL)