PBA Finals: Meralco countering San Miguel depth with defense

PBA Finals: Almazan, Meralco countering San Miguel depth with defense

/ 10:11 PM June 11, 2024

Meralco Bolts Raymond Almazan vs June Mar Fajardo PBA Finals

Meralco center Raymond Almazan has been holding it down for the Bolts in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals.–MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines—Meralco may be leading San Miguel Beer in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals series through three games, but the Bolts had to go through the wringer just to grab a 2-1 edge.

What makes the Beermen a tough nut to crack is their depth led by seven-time MVP June Mar Fajardo and CJ Perez.

“In all honesty, it’s hard because you’re going to stop June Mar (Fajardo) then Mo (Tautuaa) will have a good game. Then, there’s Marcio (Lassiter) outside, CJ (Perez) as a slasher. Then, they also have Don (Trollano) and Jericho (Cruz),” said Meralco center Raymond Almazan in Filipino after their 93-89 win in Game 3 on Sunday.


READ: Cliff Hodge: Winning rebound battle key for Meralco in PBA Finals

“We really have to pick our poison but I guess our defense will be the thing that’ll help us win in this series.”

Despite San Miguel’s firepower, Meralco has somehow found a way to gain the upper hand thanks to a balanced effort on both ends.

In Game 3, the Bolts had two players notching double-doubles with Almazan posting 17 points and 13 rebounds and Cliff Hodge collecting 10 points and 13 rebounds while Chris Newsome provided the heroics, scoring 26 points, including the game’s final five points.

Meralco’s defense–with Almazan as one of its anchors–has been stellar as well, holding a star-studded San Miguel crew to an average of 90 points in the first three games.


READ: PBA Finals: Rest vital for SMB heading into Game 4, says CJ Perez

Even Fajardo has had a hard time against the Bolts’ frontcourt of Almazan, Brandon Bates and Hodge.

Though, it’s not been easy for Almazan as well.


“It’s really hard. I think nobody can guard June Mar for 40 minutes or a whole game. Coach told us that if we can play hard defense for forty minutes or so to tire out June Mar, that’ll be our job.”

“That’s really what we have to do to this series to have a better chance of winning.”

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TAGS: Meralco Bolts, PBA Finals, Raymond Almazan

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