Meralco took home a consolation of sorts on Monday night when the Bolts shot an impeccable 56 percent from the field—their season-best—during a 94-97 setback dealt by the Alaska Aces in the opener of their best-of-five PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals showdown at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
That, however, proved to be the least of coach Norman Black’s concerns, saying the Bolts primarily shot themselves on the foot by accounting for 22 errors that the Aces turned into 28 precious points.
“We shot 56 percent? I didn’t look at the stats sheet yet,” Black, 58, told sports scribes after emerging from their dug-out, trying his best to tone down the Bolts’ red-hot shooting.
“We also turned the ball over 22 times which I believe led to 28 turnovers points for Alaska. That probably was the biggest difference in the game—the fact that we couldn’t take care of the basketball,” he added.
The Bolts got off to an encouraging start and even led by as many as 10 points at 53-43 early in the third canto but slowly lost control when they repeatedly turned the ball over, including five in the final frame.
The last—and probably the most crucial—of those miscues came inside the last 10 seconds when the Bolts were behind 94-97 as veteran playmaker Jimmy Alapag’s kick out pass went through the hands of teammate Cliff Hodge before sailing out of bounds, giving the ball back to the Aces with 5.1 ticks left.
“I really can’t look past the turnovers,” said Black, an 11-time pro league champion as a coach. “Some of them were really unforced. And we just made careless plays which we cannot do against an Alaska team because they turn those turnovers into points.
“That’s something we need to correct before Wednesday,” he said, referring to their Game 2 battle also at the Big Dome. – By Jerome Lagunzad
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