MERALCO needs to get a lot from imports Allen Durham and Liam McMorrow when it kicks off its campaign in the FIBA Asia Champions Cup on Thursday in Nonthaburi, Thailand.
The Bolts left for the Thai province on Tuesday without injured veterans Ranidel de Ocampo and Jared Dillinger, and now face the prospect of not fielding athletic Fil-Ams Chris Newsome and Cliff Hodge if the two are not allowed by FIBA to suit up as locals.
The fate of Newsome and Hodge will be tackled and decided during the managers' meeting on the eve of the annual tournament featuring top professional ballclubs from around the Asian region.
The Bolts will be appealing the case of both Fil-Ams, who are Filipino passport holders but has yet to be determined if they acquire the documents before the age of 16 as per the agreed FIBA rules.
If Newsome and Hodge fail to be given the green lights, the Bolts will have to turn a lot on Durham, the workhorse, two-time PBA Best Import, and the 7-foot-2 McMorrow as they bid to win the tournament the Philippines last ruled in 1996 behind the Hapee Toothpaste team.
Teams are allowed to field in two imports each.
Former Gilas members Baser Amer, Mike Tolomia, and Garvo Lanete, along with old-timers KG Canaleta and Reynel Hugnatan leads the local sides of the Bolts.
Meralco opens its campaign in the meet against host team Mono Vampire in Group B on opening day, which will also see Chinese Taipei champion Pauian taking on CBA counterpart Lioaning Flying Leopards in Group A.
Other opening day games feature SK Knights of Korea against Petrochimi of Iran (Group A), and Japans' B.League champion Toyota Alvark going up against defending champion Al-Riyadi of Lebanon.
The Bolts then tangle with Toyota Alvark on Friday, before concluding its group phase schedule by battling Al-Riyadi on Saturday.
Under tournament format, the top two teams from each group advance to the semifinals.
The third and fourth placed teams in each group will play in the classification matches.(RG)