Bolts on a roll
Meralco clamped down hard on Rain or Shine on Wednesday night and eked out an 89-83 victory that kept the Bolts unscathed and in the solo lead after four games in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup eliminations.
Not only will the Bolts have everyone taking them seriously from hereon, but things will also get tougher for them as Meralco heads into a truly demanding stretch in its schedule starting with the powerhouse San Miguel Beermen.
“That’s a big challenge for us,” Meralco coach Norman Black said after dealing the Elasto Painters their first defeat also in four games. “After that, it’s Alaska. It just gets tougher for us.”
Black was particularly proud of how his Bolts limited the high-octane Rain or Shine offense the whole game. “It was another good defensive effort for us tonight. That is a very high-scoring team.”
The multititled coach believes that six wins would put them safely in the quarterfinals, and the Bolts would need to bleed for their next two.
And Black feels that they have a big disadvantage in that game against the debuting Beermen this Sunday.
“Our disadvantage is that we have never seen their import,” Black said of the Beermen. “That’s probably the biggest disadvantage for us. They know us already and they know what they have to do against us.”
“We also don’t have a game where we can scout them.”
Alex Stepheson scored 21 points and had 15 rebounds for the Bolts, while Shawn Taggart paced the Elasto Painters with 27.
Meanwhile, Alaska coach Alex Compton didn’t like the way his Aces finished their game in the earlier schedule.
And this is the coach of a team that rose to 3-0 after tripping Mahindra, 98-92.
“In terms of our record, you can’t ask for more,” Compton said after the Aces remained perfect heading into an interesting showdown with defending champion Rain or Shine in five nights. “But in terms of how we are playing, you can really ask for more.
“Facing Rain or Shine on Sunday, we have a lot of stuff to improve on,” he went on after the Aces played rather inconsistently against Mahindra—Alaska led by as many as 18 points but sputtered to close the game out.
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