MERALCO coach Norman Black’s simple reminder to his troops did the trick and enabled them to score an emphatic equalizer in their PBA Governors Cup semifinals series against TNT.
How the KaTropa will adjust in their bid to regain the upperhand in the duel would be known tonight in Game 3 of the best-of-five duel at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
No answer could be had from TNT coach Bong Ravena, who did not respond to requests for interviews after his side’s 94-114 loss last Tuesday and even yesterday.
But star guard Jayson Castro offered some thoughts on why he and the rest of KaTropa failed to follow up their 103-94 victory in the series opener and what they must do to regain momentum.
“Lahat yata ng tira nila pumapasok so ganoon talaga, kailangan naming mag-bounce back sa next game,” said Castro.
Off-hand, Castro could not really pinpoint what Meralco specifically did that caused the KaTropa to play in stark contrast to the way they did in Game 1, when they led by as many as 22 points. Just two days later, they found themselves trailing by as many as 35.
“Siguro may something na ginawa sila na hindi kami prepared and then outhustled, out-effort, so lahat,” admitted Castro. “Siguro i-match lang namin ‘yung energy nila and then we’ll have a big chance to win next game.”
Black was more clear on why the Bolts made such a big turnaround. “We displayed much better effort tonight, right from the start of the game,” he said, obviously pleased that his players followed his pre-game instructions to the letter.
“We had more focus, more energy. We played a lot more physical than we did in Game 1, and we executed well on offense, particularly in the first half,” added Black.
“Those are the things that we have to do to beat TNT because they’re a tough team and they’re very difficult to beat.”
Allen Durham’s triple-double–of 44 points, 19 rebounds and 11 assists–was the chief factor, but Black also pointed out the big contribution of his starting point guard Baser Amer who delivered 20 points, 11 more than what he scored in the opener.
“Baser Amer was able to score the basketball for us, which is what we need,” noted Black.
“We need him to be the leader as far as our scoring is concerned and he has to get his points up on the board and he did a great job.”
With Amer, Bong Quinto and Durham accounting for four triples each Meralco boomed in a total 16 triples, helping spread the defense and making it easier for Durham to power himself inside.