Noy Baclao gamble pays off for Meralco in crucial win
MANILA, Philippines—Noy Baclao was a hardly-used substitute for Meralco during the eliminations appearing in just four games in barely 10 minutes an outing, but the veteran big shone brightly come playoff time.
The 6-foot-5 backup gave his best performance of the season putting up 10 points, two rebounds, two assists, and one block in the Bolts’ 91-86 Game 3 win over Magnolia in the semifinals of the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup.
Bolts head coach Norman Black said it was this reason that the team picked up Baclao in the 2020 offseason.
Baclao was Meralco’s best impact player of the game posting a plus-minus of +9 while holding the paint for his severely undermanned team which didn’t have the injured Raymond Almazan at the center spot.
“We picked up Noy for situations like this where we will need him in the playoffs to guard bigger guys,” said Black Friday after his team avoid a 0-3 hole against the Hotshots.
“I thought he stepped in and did a good job defensively, and he also made some shots for us in the first half. And in the second half, he really helped us a lot.”
Baclao didn’t immediately join Meralco in the Clark bubble in 2020 as the team gave him time to properly recover from surgery to fix his ruptured right patellar tendon.
But when the time came, the big man repaid Meralco’s trust the moment he got the big opportunity.
“Noy was big for us tonight defensively. That’s the reason why we brought him to the team,” said Black, Baclao’s coach in Ateneo during his college days.
The 34-year-old Baclao went an impressive 5-of-6 from the field while bodying up the Hotshots’ bigs Ian Sangalang and Rafi Reavis.
Black added that it was just a matter of time for Baclao to get his stride, and it couldn’t have come at a better time than in the playoffs.
“We knew when we got him he must gonna be ready for the start of the conference. We’re hoping that he will be ready come playoff time. And at least for tonight, it paid off for us.”