MANILA, Philippines – Meralco’s PBA Commissioner’s Cup campaign has not gone as expected, and that much is obvious.
The Bolts still have a fighting spirit, though, and they are eager to show it off to the utmost as they resume play in the mid-season conference on Friday against the Bay Area Dragons at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Following a 130 to 76 thrashing of Terrafirma on October 21—the Dragons’ second straight victory, which improved their record to 6-1 and helped them reclaim first place in the standings—the visiting team has been generally tearing up the field and is now rested.
However, the Bay Area has no intention of slowing down as it works to forge a stronger collective.
Meralco, on the other hand, has dropped three straight and is currently dangerously near to missing out on qualifying for the eight-team playoffs. The team is currently ranked 12th overall and second to last in the overall ladder.
Norman Black, his coach, says that His Bolts are far from done. On the eve of the game versus Bay Area, he declared, “Despite the difficulties, we will enter the game battling to stay alive.”
Meralco has also had plenty of time to recover since losing to Rain or Shine by a score of 96-113. This period of time was somewhat extended when the league had a holiday break.
With the exception of Aaron Black, who has fully recovered after unintentionally being struck in the face by Elasto Painter Rey Nambatac early in their game and needing to be taken to a nearby hospital, that did little to totally heal the Bolts’ wounds.
Meralco must overcome a monumental challenge in order to play its upcoming match, due to additional unsettling news.
Black himself admitted that “the game against Bay Area will be tough, especially since (Cliff) Hodge will be out with an ankle sprain and (Chris) Newsome is still out with his calf ailment.”
One piece of good news for Meralco is that KJ McDaniels, who was brought in to replace Johnny O’Bryant, is already making friends with his new team.
Black said, “KJ has only practiced with us for three days, but he is settling in nicely to his new team.”