After another early exit, Bolts eye new pieces from PBA draft
Meralco saw another season come to an end earlier than it would’ve wanted as it couldn’t complete an upset of No. 2 San Miguel Beer in their quarterfinals matchup on Monday night.
But another exit before the semifinals won’t determine the kind of year the Bolts in just the first season of Norman Black as head coach.
“It’s a learning experience,” Meralco forward Cliff Hodge told INQUIRER.net after posting five points, seven rebounds and two steals in a 102-86 loss to the Beermen, whose starting five led by reigning MVP June Mar Fajardo was just too much for the hardworking Bolts to overcome. “We’re trying to rebuild with coach Norman’s philosophies so it’s a good learning experience.”
Black is remaining positive owing to the improvement in the Bolts’ record despite the early ouster.
“A big improvement over last year. I think we finished somewhere around .500 and that’s a big improvement over what the team did the year before so I’m thinking very positive of the performance of the team this year,” said Black who, despite the loss seemed to be in a very good mood while talking to the media.
In Black’s first season, the Bolts dug their way out of the bottom part of the standings and into the middle of the pack where the proved to be a dangerous team, especially in the playoffs, despite the limitations to their lineup.
Black, who is used to winning throughout his career as a former import and now coach in the league, is definitely not satisfied.
“We’ve been a middle of the road team the entire year. We did have some success almost making it to the semis twice, making it to the semis in the second conference,” said Black, who steered the Beermen to a Grand Slam in 1989. “But at the same time, whenever you’re in the middle of the pack you can beat the great teams but also lose to the bottom teams.”
Black also spoke of Meralco’s need to improve and one way to do that is through the draft.
“I’m looking forward to us being able to improve the team through the upcoming draft in a couple of months,” he said. “Right now we’re at No.4 and No.7. We are aware that this class is quite strong so we’re hoping that we can get younger and we can bring in some skillful players who are hungry that will add a little bit of depth to our team.”
“We need to upgrade at almost every position to be able to compete with the San Miguels, the Purefoods’, the Talk ‘N Texts, so there are a lot of players that I’m impressed with. My problem is we need help in about four positions and we only have two picks,” Black added with a laugh.
As far as Black is concerned, the Bolts will be looking to address their problems in the guard positions and at the center spot in the draft.
Regardless of whoever Meralco lands in the draft, the bottomline is for the team to continue its improvement and reach for greater goals next season.
“We’re gonna try and get better each season. This is the best that Meralco has done since they’ve been in the league so it’s a good start for us,” Hodge said. CFC
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