Meralco Bolts hoping the third time’s the charm

Special Olympics athlete Matthew Millett of Team USA with the 3/4 court buzzer beater!

For two straight PBA Governor’s Cups, the Meralco Bolts has been a bridesmaid to the Barangay Ginebra.

In the 2016 edition, Justin Brownlee sank a three-pointer with time running out in Game Six to avoid overtime and win the series. A year later, the Bolts managed to go the distance only to lose in the do-or-die Game Seven by five points.

This year, Coach Norman Black and his wards are doing the necessary preparations to have a crack at the title again. “We’re doing great. We’ve been practicing regularly and Allen (Durham) has been here for nine days already to get himself ready for another run,” Black told FOX Sports PH.

In his third tour of duty, Durham is looking to win more than just the Best Import award. But if the team were to win its first title in franchise history, they would have to avoid the collapse that happened during the 2018 Commissioner’s Cup. After posting a 7-2 record, they lost their last four games including the two quarterfinals losses against the Gin Kings.

But Black is very much aware that the journey to another Governor’s Cup Finals appearance is not in the books, especially with their ardous opening schedule. “We will play three games in a week. But we’ve been preparing and practicing hard and we will be ready against Columbian,” Black added. The Bolts will open the third conference of the PBA’s 43rd season against the Dyip tomorrow at the Ynares Center. Two days after, they will play the TNT Katropa at the same venue. On the 24th, Meralco will clash against Alaska at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Being so close to the title twice, Black is aware that a healthy roster can get them over the hump. He said, “Two years ago, we missed Jared Dillinger (in the Finals) who is a very important in our rotation. Then the following year, it was Ranidel De Ocampo. So, it would be very important for us to stay healthy in the eliminations and the play-offs to improve our chances.”

Aside from Dillinger and De Ocampo, the Bolts will also need great contributions from Baser Amer, Cliff Hodge, and Chris Newsome if they are lift the Governor’s Cup crown. The defensive tone set by Anjo Caram plus the instant offense provided by KG Canaleta, Mike Tolomia, and team captain Reynel Hugnatan will be vital elements to ignite another deep run.
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