(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
Game 1, best-of-5 semi-final series
7 p.m. -- Meralco vs. Talk ‘N Text
MERALCO coach Norman Black admitted having seen his Bolts play their best game thus far in the conference in their quarterfinal tussle against Mahindra.
“It was probably our best game this conference and a big win for the Meralco basketball program,” said Black after routing the Enforcers, 105-82, last Sept 24 in a victory that clinched for them a spot in the best-of-5 semifinal series against Talk ‘N Text.
Having overcome the first hurdle in the playoff round, the Bolts are now up against another challenge.
“Our matchup with Talk ‘N Text will be another big challenge,” said Black, referring to their Final Four series with the Tropang Texters which will start today with Game 1 set at 7 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
In their quarterfinal tussle against the Enforcers, everybody contributed in their cause, with import Allen Durham and locals Cliff Hodge and Jared Dillinger providing steady fire as Meralco completed a ghastly rout of the Enforcers.
However, Black believes the Bolts cannot beat the Tropang Texters in high scoring ball game, knowing full well that the TNT has got a number of explosive scorers led by Jason Castro.
Only last time around, the Texters routed Phoenix Fuels in the quarters, 136-124, in a high-scoring game that saw four of their locals -- Ryan Reyes, Larry Fonacier, Kelly Williams and Ranidel de Ocampo -- finish in double figures.
Their regular import Mychal Lemar Ammons and Asian import Mike Madanly also pumped in double-digit scores.
That’s how daunting the game for the Bolts against the Texters, but Black is particularly wary of Jason Castro who exploded with 42 points, including five triples.
Black admitted slowing down Castro while also covering the TNT’s outside shooters will be a tough task.
“We will have to play very good defense, because it’s difficult to beat them in a high scoring game,” said Black.
It will be the first time in 15 years that Black is meeting TNT coach Jong Uichico in a playoff or since 2001 Governors’ Cup finals.
Black was then with the Sta. Lucia Realty while Uichio was with San Miguel Beer.