MANILA, Philippines – When Meralco and Blackwater square off on Friday at the Ynares Arena in Pasig for the PBA On Tour, both teams will be looking to polish up their play while finishing strong.
Both the Bolts and Bossing have won their most recent two games, and they both hope to finish the 11-game tournament with victories in the remaining games to kick off the preseason season.
Following the match against Blackwater, 6 to 3 Meralco wraps up its schedule against Rain or Shine on July 28. The Bossing then plays the Elasto Painters the following Sunday before facing TNT on July 30—the last day of the preseason series hosted by Arena Plus and supported by Bingo Plus.
More importantly for both teams, the games they still have left should provide a good indication of how well their players have adapted to the modifications to their respective systems mandated by their new coaches.
Having the No. 8 overall pick in the Sept. 17 Rookie Draft, Meralco’s coach Luigi Trillo and active consultant Nenad Vucinic may even add to their squad.
The Bolts appear to have enough equipment, as shown by their victories over sister teams TNT and NLEX, to reach their immediate aim of a strong finish, at least for the “Tour” and despite the loss of a couple of key players in Chris Newsome and Chris Banchero.
Just two days prior, the Bolts defeated the Road Warriors 96 to 83 with the help of some strategic outside shooting and a consistent inside game.
With victories over Phoenix Super LPG and San Miguel Beer, both by a margin of two points, Blackwater has been on the rise. They now have a remarkable 5 to 3 record in the PBA On Tour thanks to these fought-for victories.
Troy Rosario, who is in command for Blackwater and averages 16.3 points and 6.0 rebounds per game, has been crucial to their recent success. Rosario’s steady play will be essential if the club hopes to extend its winning streak. Players like James Sena, Rashawn McCarthy, Ato Ular, and Baser Amer are anticipated to play significant supporting roles alongside him.
But Meralco has a potent arsenal, led by players like Allein Maliksi, Raymond Almazan, Bong Quinto, Aaron Black, and Cliff Hodge. Norbert Torres, Alvin Pasaol, Franky Johnson, and Diego Dario are among the team’s strong backups.
However, it’s possible that the game will go on without head coaches Nash Racela and Luigi Trillo present. Trillo is now on a scouting expedition in the US, while Cariaso recently caught the sickness. The teams will rely on the combined efforts of their assistant coaches and players to carry out game preparations and make required modifications on the court in their absence.
The upcoming game promises to be an exciting contest because both teams are making progress and have quality lineups. Meralco will be determined to show off their firepower and move up the rankings, while Blackwater will try to build on their recent triumphs and consolidate their place. The absence of their head coaches increases the match’s level of uncertainty, putting both sides’ adaptation to the test.