Highly charged Bolts shoot to put Kings in deep hole
Meralco did a lot of things right in a 104-91 thumping of Barangay Ginebra in the opener of the best-of-seven title series PBA Governors’ Cup at Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday.
The Bolts shot with deadly accuracy—a whopping 51.9 percent—while making their fancied foes labor for each of theirs in the curtain-raiser. Their backup crew was also lethal, accounting for 32 points that more than doubled that of the Gin Kings’ reserves that night.
But hoisted against the backdrop of the club’s history with its fancied enemy, Meralco’s spectacular outing felt like a token win.
And perhaps, Meralco coach Norman Black said it best: This franchise has been on the losing end of this affair too long that one victory hardly feels enough reason to celebrate.
Allein Maliksi, whose second-quarter exploits had the Bolts zooming to a 53-39 lead, also spoke of the series-opening win of minor importance.
“It’s just one game. We haven’t achieved anything,” he told reporters on his way out of the Big Dome. “It’s just one quarter if you look at it.”
Meralco’s chances of writing a different end to this latest installment will largely depend on how consistently the Bolts could keep doing those things right.
And as far as Maliksi and Black are concerned, the Bolts are ready to try just that when the series moves to Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City for Game 2 on Friday at 6 p.m.
“We’re just focused on our defense. And then with our offense [will remain about] creating for each other,” the veteran forward said.
“Everything for us is going to be about defense. It’s going to be about trying to find a way to slow them down offensively,” said Black.
“Frankly, we were terrible, they were great,” Ginebra’s Tim Cone told the Inquirer. “They looked prepared and motivated, we looked as if we were taking a walk in the park. We’re hoping we can turn that around in Game 2. Needless to say, we don’t want to fall into a 2-0 hole.”
Barangay Ginebra, a three-time winner in the last four editions of this tournament, remains optimistic that it could tie the series.
And like the Bolts dismissing the win as “just one win,” the Kings also have the mindset of the Game 1 setback as “just one loss.”
“This is a seven-game series, right? And that’s the good thing about these Finals. We know how to beat Meralco. We know that [the Bolts are] very aggressive, very motivated, but we also know how to beat them,” said LA Tenorio.
“[Coach Tim Cone] said that he didn’t know our team [that played in Game 1]. And I have to agree with him,” he went on recalling the mood inside the Kings’ dugout. “Offensively and defensively, we were out of whack. This is really not the Ginebra team that played [TNT] and NLEX.
What will be key now for the crowd darlings, according to the veteran playmaker, is simply matching Meralco’s intensity right from tip-off.
“Any adjustments won’t matter if we cannot match their energy,” Tenorio said. “Definitely, [the Bolts] wanted it more. So we have to match that mindset—that we just want this (championship) just as badly. That this is a different championship.”
Also keeping Ginebra’s spirits up is the possibility of high-leaping forward Japeth Aguilar rejoining the Kings at some point in the series.
Reduced to a mere spectator due to an injury, Aguilar feels that he could do so, “hopefully after a week. I just need to get my rhythm and conditioning back.”
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