Meralco tries to defy odds, eyes repeat over Phoenix
The Meralco Bolts hope to be among those who defied the odds as they clash with the Phoenix Fuel Masters in a knockout setto in their PBA Governors Cup quarterfinals matchup Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Bolts have erased the Fuel Masters' advantage and put the two of them in equal footing on a 90-74 victory Wednesday over at the Cuneta Astrodome.
The two teams slug it out in a do-or-die at 7 p.m. with the winner advancing to the best-offive semifinals versus the Alaska Milk Aces.
Coach Norman Black once again rallied his troops to play a lockdown defense as they won a fifth straight door-die match in the season-ending tourney.
Entering the match, the Fuel Masters averaged a league secondbest 106.1 points.
But with an efficient defense, the Bolts dragged the Fuel Masters to a low-scoring 3335 first-half battle - the lowest this conference -and held Phoenix 32 points below their average in the end.
Black insists, though, that it's just one game, and that they need two in a row to stay in the hunt for a possible third straight Governors Cup Finals stint.
True enough, the Fuel Masters ache to rebound and achieve a feat that has never been done in franchise history.
They take their second crack at a first ever semis, with the Fuel Masters vowing to give it all and leave everything on the floor in this KO setto.
The Fuel Masters lorded it over in rebounding 67-53 but couldn't shoot straight Wednesday night.
Definitely, they need to move the ball around and find the open man to have a better chance of winning.
The Bolts, however, are determined to work harder and play even better in the next game.
"We'll try to correct whatever errors we had (Wednesday) and try to come out better," said Black. (SB) - Meralco coach Norman Black plans to extend Jared Dillinger's playing time on Friday when the Bolts attempt to repeat over the Phoenix Fuel Masters to advance to the PBA Governors' Cup semi-finals.
Dillinger played seven minutes in his return Wednesday to help the Bolts take a 90-74 victory over the Fuel Masters and force a knockout match for the semi-final seat.
The 10-year veteran was out for most of the elimination because of a quad injury.
Despite his limited playing time, Dillinger managed to make his presence felt and visibly pleased Black, who believes JD could play a significant role in Friday's the do-or-die match at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
"Now that I have seen that he can play, he will play more," said Black, praising Dillinger for his defensive effort on Phoenix's energetic star Calvin Abueva.
"I didn't know if I wanted to force him in this situation - a do-or-die game - because he hasn't played the entire conference. But he showed me that he can get out there and give me a few minutes. Definitely, he'll show up on Friday," Black added.
Dillinger vows to do whatever he can to keep the Bolts' achieve their goal.
"You gotta be ready to go out there," said the 34-year-old Dillinger. "I'm not 25 anymore so it's taking me longer to get activated and get my legs fired. But I'm gonna do all that I can just to help the guys out anyway I can." (JT) -