Meralco, Star seek Final 4
After snaring the top seed, it’s time for Meralco to reach for another goal when it tries to cut short Blackwater’s playoffs stint at the start of the PBA Governors Cup quarterfinals on Tuesday at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
By virtue of finishing the 11-game preliminaries with a league-best 9-2 slate, the Bolts earned a twice-to-beat incentive which it will try to put to good use against the eighth-ranked Elite in the 4:15 p.m. match ushering in the last eight.
The Bolts come into the match with a four-game win-streak capped by a 104-101 victory over San Miguel Beer at the end of the eliminations on Sunday.
They also prevailed over the Elite, 107-78, in their elimination round meeting last July 21.
Meralco coach Norman Black knows it won’t be easy this time around.
“Now we’re going to the playoffs, where things are going to get more difficult,” he said.
“The focus now is just to prepare for Blackwater because you know they’ve played very well in this conference and they have one of the best imports in the conference so we have to be really ready for them in our next game.”
In the 7 p.m. main game, Star and NLEX mix it up anew just 48 hours after their elimination meeting.
The Hotshots slipped past the Road Warriors, 101-93, on Sunday, giving them a spot in the top four.
As the fourth seeds, the Hotshots have two cracks at making the semifinals, just like top seed Meralco, No. 2 TNT KaTropa and No. 3 Barangay Ginebra.
Star coach Chito Victolero is wary that fatigue may take its toll on the Hotshots.
“It’s our third game in five days,” said Victolero. “I need to make sure that my players are motivated enough and ready for the battle. We need to be mentally tough and physically prepared especially coming from back-to-back games.”
For the Road Warriors, it’s win or vacation time.
“We lost our defensive intensity in the second half of our last game versus Star,” said NLEX coach Yeng Guiao. “It’s something we cannot afford to do again.”
The Elite, meanwhile, made it past the eliminations for only the second time since joining the league three years ago.
Import Henry Walker has lifted Blackwater from a 0-3 start and into a 5-3 record since coming in as replacement for original import Trevis Simpson.
Mac Belo has also steadily regained his old fiery form while JP Erram is blossoming into one of the best centers in the league. —PBA.PH
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