Finals Game 4 slump a serious test
You can never be sure about the Meralco team in the Philippine Basketball Association. The mighty Bolts are full of surprises.
Last Wednesday, injured Raymond Almazan refused to call in sick and tried a bold limping start to hopefully inspire and power Meralco back into its best-of-seven finals clash with Barangay Ginebra.
It was also a great surprise how Almazan was let loose limping, obviously with no ample preparation.
After a good start that saw Meralco finishing tied (14-all) in the first quarter, Almazan was pulled out. He was predictably rendered useless after a furious start. Meralco next lapsed into a scattered, spiritless stand that sent it down 3-1 against fiery Barangay Ginebra.
It would not be a gross exaggeration to say Meralco had suffered partial paralysis. It was not a throwaway; rather the incapacity of the Bolts turned the heralded Game 4 of the finals into a forgettable trash.
The Gin Kings were poised to deal the coup and clinch the crown on Friday.
There was also a frantic cry from all over for Meralco to snap back and become a big threat again.
Ginebra coach Tim Cone had blamed lack of rhythm behind Meralco’s crucial loss in Game 4.
Cone sounded doubly puzzled because, he swore, Ginebra did not do anything super, other than compete methodically last Wednesday.
Norman Black, the biggest loser, said his team just froze and allowed Ginebra to do everything to them.
He couldn’t point a finger at anybody.
Maybe he was blinded by reviews that Almazan was the lone main weapon for Meralco if it hoped to stand up to the expected Ginebra onslaught.
Shouldn’t have they first tried an Almazan-less start, before resorting to push the injured, limping local mainstay into battle?
This column is being done a full day ahead of the PBA Finals Game 5 at the Mall of Asia.
Needless to say, Meralco would make a determined stand to survive.
There indeed won’t be a repeat of the Game 4 embarrassment when, as coach Black tried to explain, his team was reduced to a big joke.
Fine, but knowing PBA commissioner Willie Marcial, he would not just sit there and charge the grizzly Game 4 slump to experience.
Meralco pulling a surprise was not being totally overruled. This is not the sort of mighty expensive outfit that would allow itself to be a laughing stock on two successive nights.
It’s the PBA that has a problem.
It must find a foolproof formula to ensure how major offerings, like conference finals playoffs, can be sustained as a valid suspense theater through thick and thin.
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