PBA: Meralco unveils ‘home run’ of a signing in Johnny O’Bryant
Meralco coach Norman Black described having import Johnny O’Bryant III as like “hitting a home run.”
But Black also knows that their new acquisition will be up for a big test right in his first PBA Commissioner’s Cup game when the Bolts battle the NorthPort Batang Pier.
“It will be a good test for Johnny in his first game,” Black said ahead of the 5:45 p.m. contest at Smart Araneta Coliseum, as expectations are high that O’Bryant can showcase the skills that got him to play for three National Basketball Association teams. Part of those expectations is helping Meralco finally get a breakthrough championship that has eluded the franchise for so long.
“I just want to come here and play as hard as I could and let the chip fall where it may,” said the 29-year-old O’Bryant, who played for the Milwaukee Bucks, Denver Nuggets and Charlotte Hornets before heading overseas.
Meralco has made it at least to the semifinals of the last five conferences, and that streak counts bitter Finals defeats to Barangay Ginebra in the 2019 and 2022 Governors’ Cup.
The Bolts were eliminated in Game 7 of their semifinal series with eventual champion San Miguel in the Philippine Cup.
They’ll be up against a Batang Pier squad with a high morale after NorthPort nearly scored an upset against the visiting Bay Area Dragons only to lose in the last second, 105-104, courtesy of a buzzer-beating three-pointer by import Myles Powell.
New look NorthPort?
Robert Bolick scored a career-best 33 points while import Prince Ibeh could pose a tough opposition for O’Bryant.
“We are expecting an uptempo game [against] NorthPort,” Black said. “It’s very important that we defend the perimeter well because they are a very good shooting team.”
NorthPort could come in once again with a retooled roster after reports of a trade being worked out with Converge.
The Batang Pier’s Kevin Ferrer and Jerrick Balanza may be on their way to the FiberXers as part of a multiplayer trade in exchange for Allyn Bulanadi and Tyrus Hill.
Frankie Lim’s debut as NLEX coach will have to wait anew in the 3 p.m. meeting with Blackwater.
Lim will serve a one-game ban for an incident while handling Barangay Ginebra in 2015, leaving assistant Adonis Tierra to once again man the sidelines.
The suspension was supposed to be served by Lim last Sunday against Meralco but the game was postponed due to Super Typhoon “Karding.”
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