Things sounded so simple for Meralco coach Norman Black the morning after his Bolts’ 88-79 loss to Magnolia in the opener of their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series at Don Honorio Ventura State University gym in Bacolor on Sunday.
“We just have to play a lot better to beat a team like Magnolia,” Black told the Inquirer. “We did a poor job of rebounding and had way too many turnovers.”
This series is expected by many to go the full seven-game route, but playing the way Black described it put his Bolts holding the shorter end of the stick and on the gun to retaliate immediately on Wednesday, when the playoffs resume after all four teams complete the necessary COVID-19 protocols.
San Miguel Beer’s Leo Austria took the chance on Monday to give his players the day, citing the fatigue brought by the last 10 days of fierce competition as the Beermen try to reclaim lost all-Filipino glory with a solid foe at the other end of the floor.
“I think fatigue is starting to set in,” Austria told the Inquirer after viewing game tapes with his coaching staff on Monday. “The players haven’t had time off in the last 10 days, so we took this opportunity to recharge.”
The Beermen lost, 89-88, in Game 1 of their Final Four series with top-ranked TNT, and Austria bared that they also have some adjustments to do come Wednesday’s game, which he described as a “must-win for us.”
“Definitely must-win,” Austria said. “The chances of advancing will dim considerably if you fall behind (0-2). Although a comeback from that is not impossible, but we wouldn’t want to be put in that situation.”
It definitely is not impossible, as San Miguel roared back from 0-3 down against Alaska several years back to win and touch off an all-Filipino dominance this league has never seen before.
“Our turnovers cost us the game. We had a few too many in the fourth period because it was tied [late in the third],” Austria said as his Beermen totaled 23 for the game. TNT was a lot efficient with just 11 boo-boos that night.
“There were also some bad shot selections and their (Tropang Giga) defense was also there to force [my players] to take tough shots, including the one of Marcio’s,” he went on.
Marcio Lassiter had the chance to win it for San Miguel but missed a running jumper with a second left.
Meralco is aiming to make it past this round of this conference for the first time in franchise history and play for a title, and the Bolts would have to be super sharp the rest of the way against a Magnolia crew that is playing splendidly under pressure.
The Bolts still had a chance to turn things around in Game 1 despite what Black said was sloppy play on their part.
“We got some good looks in the fourth quarter, but we didn’t shoot the ball well—and that’s when [the Hotshots] pulled away in the last five minutes.”
So, expect Meralco to apply some tweaks and address every Game 1 mistake if possible, otherwise, falling into a 0-2 hole no matter how close the experts feel this series would be will definitely spell trouble for the Bolts.
Black and Austria are no strangers as far as winning championships is concerned, and they definitely were able to identify their flaws in their respective Game 1s.
Making things work for them come the second game is the only thing that matters for their sides right now. INQ
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