FIBA-honed Meralco faces Blackwater in PBA return

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Meralco Bolts
The Meralco Bolts make their PBA Governors’ Cup return today against Blackwater Elite after their stint at the FIBA Asia Champions Cup in Thailand. -- ALVIN S. GO

By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter

FRESH from their FIBA Asia Champions Cup campaign in Thailand where they finished fourth in the tournament, the Meralco Bolts make their return in the Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup today against the Blackwater Elite at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Currently at 1-3 in the season-ending PBA tournament and riding a three-game losing streak, the Bolts try to turn things around beginning in their 4:30 p.m. encounter with the Elite, who are sporting a 4-1 record.

Tasked to represent the Philippines in the Asia Champions Cup held from Sept. 27 to Oct. 2 in Nonthaburi, Meralco competed hard despite being undermanned and wound up at fourth place out of eight competing clubs around Asia.

The Bolts lost to the SK Knights from South Korea, 91-87, on Tuesday to settle for fourth place.

Now back in the PBA, Meralco, which finished runner-up in each of the last two editions of the Governors’ Cup, looks to arrest their skid that has seen it dropped to ninth place to date.

The latest of the Bolts’ defeats came at the hands of the Phoenix Fuel Masters, 96-86, on Sept. 19.

In said game, import Allen Durham finished with a near triple-double of 16 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists while Chris Newsome top-scored with 18 points.

“We have been on and off so far in the tournament,” said Meralco coach Norman Black of the current slump they are in.

Out to keep the Bolts struggling, meanwhile, is Blackwater, currently tied for third place.

The Elite absorbed their first defeat of the conference in their last game against the NLEX Road Warriors, 124-106, on Sept. 26.

Import Henry Walker is leading the way for Blackwater with numbers of 27.4 points, 13.2 rebounds and 5.6 assists.

Also averaging in double-digits in scoring for the Elite are Poy Erram, Nards Pinto and Michael DiGregorio.

Meanwhile, defending champions Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings (5-1) play NLEX (4-2) in the main game at 7 p.m.