Bolts still underdogs despite tying series with Tropang Giga – Black
Meralco let TNT a rare loss that saw their PBA Governors’ Cup semi-final series end 1-1 at Antipolo City on Sunday.
But Bolts coach Norman Black, after winning overtime 124-117 from sheer will at Ynares Center, still considers Tropang Giga the favorite despite witnessing one performance can certainly give the Bolts more confidence that they can take down the top team of the league.
“We’re playing against the first seed, so every game is going to be very difficult for us,” Black said. “This is only their second loss in this entire conference and nothing will be easy. If you look at their squad you see they are very busy so every game is competitive.”
It took sizzling footage from Aaron Black, a determined, aggressive Cliff Hodge, and imported KJ McDaniels responding to Black’s challenge, among others, for Meralco to turn the series into its best trilogy.
That, despite TNT recovering from a double-digit deficit in the second half and losing only one free throw before taking a 2-0 lead.
The winner of this series will go on to battle the survivor of the San Miguel Beer-Barangay Ginebra series, Game 2 is underway at press time.
Mikey shut up
The Beermen will play the rest of the convention without their mainstay June Mar Fajardo, who was eliminated with an MCL injury.
Ginebra also won Game 1 last Friday when Christian Standhardinger had a golden age underneath when the 6-foot-11-tall Fajardo was absent.
“Even if we had a slight eight to 10 lead, they could have easily erased that because they’re probably the best 3-point shooter in the league,” Black said.
Mikey Williams and RR Pogoy had long runs that allowed them to knock out shots from outside the arc, although the uncompromising Meralco defense kept Williams from scoring in goal.
TNT also failed in the extension as it suddenly failed to hit the treble, much more relieved coach Meralco.
“Luckily for us, their last three or four three-pointers didn’t work out. And that really helped us win the game,” Black said.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, the TNT importer who caused most of the damage to Meralco in Game 1, also missed out on key charities in game four, including one of the three that led to the scoreline. draw 112 after regulation.
He got a trip to the line after fouling with six seconds left ahead of challenging Chris Newsome and Hodge, who will shake off the whip to serve in injury time.
Hodge scored the first four points for Meralco in extra time, attempted to defend Hollis-Jefferson and received several counter-attacks that prompted Black to accidentally nickname him.
“He’s a biological man,” Black joked, adding that the team would check on Hodge’s head after the tough-nosed striker fell heavily during the game, sending the back of his neck slamming to the floor.
Hodge’s unyielding determination in that play highlighted how hard the Bolts fought to get through this series.
The younger Black finished the job by scoring six points on his way to the top of his career with 28 points, as he and Hodge supported the McDaniels’ all-out effort with 39 points, 20 rebounds , four assists, three steals, and three saves after that. His Game 1 struggled.
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