Norman Black said it all: If there’s anything that can lift Meralco past Barangay Ginebra in this Governor’s Cup final, it’s going to be defense.
And with that etched in their minds, the Bolts played defensively like there was no tomorrow last Sunday night, turning a horrifying display at the Mall of Asia Arena to hold off their former tormentor. they have only 13 points in each of the last two games with 83 points. – A -74 win puts them ahead in the biggest win streak of these seven championships, 2-1.
Meralco also made the defending champion Gin Kings fall into the lowest situation this season since the 84-71 loss to TNT in the quarterfinals of the Philippine Cup.
But Black also took his hat off to the Kings, who sent Bolts into the hole 13 points in the first half.
They can climb out of there using mainly one thing, yes, defense.
It took a half-hour break when Black spoke of how the great late national coach Ron Jacobs burned his Bolts to the second half whistle with unwavering determination.
“I [told] It’s a story about how I remember the great coach Ron Jacobs told me that if you (the opponent) shoot at a very high rate in the first half, and you only get a few points up, that’s not very good. , “I said. Meralco leads, 48-40. “The other team definitely has a chance to come back.
“So it’s just a way to try to make my players understand that we’re still in the game,” Black continued. “That we still have a chance to come back. We just need to play a little better defensively and play better offensively, which we did in the second half.”
Saved for a tireless offensive play by Christian Standhardinger, it was all Meralco starting at the 6:22 mark of the goal.
‘More about us’
Ginebra coach Tim Cone said: “We were panicking the whole time and obviously we weren’t getting any shots. “We will do some heroic kicks and [not] Try to get good photos. We are a little selfish. We didn’t move the ball. “
But then again, the Meralco defense forced them to take those shots as so many Game 2 heroes for the kings in the 99-93 win, like imported Justin Brownlee, struggled .
Brownlee, who was forced by Cliff Hodge to shoot 1-10 from a three-point range, said: “I feel like this is more like us,” said. “Like I said, a lot of credit goes to Meralco, but I really feel like we beat ourselves, you know, not having to take the free throws. We also didn’t hit the shots we normally take.
“A lot of credit to Meralco, but I feel like this is on us,” he continued.
Hodge highlighted how hard Bolts worked defensively, as he blocked a short Standhardinger jab and then fouled in from the converted Ginebra middle on the next inning.
Hodge didn’t score tonight, but was clearly the catalyst for Meralco’s tough defence.
Meralco actually shot further – 35% to Ginebra’s 40 – but that mental effort in the second half really changed the landscape of the competition as seen by the league’s pandemic-era record of 16,104 audience.
The two clubs rematch this Wednesday as the series returns to the Smart Araneta Coliseum, with Ginebra to welcome Japeth Aguilar back.
But Black insists Meralco has been ready ever since.
“I thought he would play in game 1. So I was expecting him to appear in every game. I know once we lose Game 2 he’ll play in this series because we have Holy Week break. I think that will give him enough time to come back.
“[W]I will just wait and see. When he’s out on the pitch on the pitch, of course he gives them a big presence in the midfield, very athletic. But yeah, we’ll just wait and see if he plays the next game,” he added. INQ
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