Can Meralco repeat against Phoenix?
Friday’s Game (Araneta Coliseum)
7 p.m. Phoenix vs Meralco THEY did it last Wednesday and they aim to do it again on Friday.
This is the battlecry of the Meralco Bolts who stunned the Phoenix Fuel Masters, 90-74, to open their 2018 PBA Governors’ Cup quarterfinals duel at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Today they meet again in a knockout matchup with the winner advancing to the semifinal round.
But it will not be easy for Meralco which finished the elims at seventh place with a 5-6 record.
Phoenix, on the other hand, was No. 2 with an 8-3 card.
In league history, 101 of 113 teams with the twice-to-beat advantage have advanced to the next round.
The Bolts hope to be among those who defied the odds and join Alaska, Magnolia and Barangay Ginebra in the Final Four.
The two teams slug it out at 7 p.m. with the winner taking on Alaska in the best-of-five semis.
Meralco head 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 second-best 106.1 points.
But with an efficient defense, the Bolts dragged the Fuel Masters to a lowscoring 33-35 first-half battle — the lowest this conference — and held Phoenix 32 points below their average in the end.
Black, however, downplayed Wednesday’s win. He said they need another victory today to stay in the hunt for a possible third straight Governors’ Cup Finals stint.
Black is also anticipating a major rebound from the Fuel Masters who are aiming to make the semis for the first time in franchise history.
The Fuel Masters, however, lorded it over in the rebounding department, 67-53, but couldn’t shoot the ball well last Wednesday.
Phoenix made just 14 of 44 (32%) shots in the second half compared to Meralco’s 21-of-38 (55%) field goal shooting.
Phoenix import Eugene Phelps had gamehighs of 27 points and 17 rebounds in that game but missed half of his 24 shot attempts. — A.O.