Sometimes, you just have to find a way and find a way, the Bolts did.
Coming into the game, the Bolts were massive underdogs. Rain or Shine was a good, cohesive team. Sure, it’s roster has changed for the first time in a while but a lot of the constants are still there: Belga, Chan, Tiu and Norwood, to name a few. Because of this, the team’s identity is still very much intact: A defensive team that has enough firepower all around to score.
The Bolts, on the other hand, are very much the opposite. This is also a team that hasn’t changed, both in it’s roster construction and it’s identity, one that they found late in the season last year. They’re an offensive team that can D up when the situation calls for it. They’re not a dynamic offensive team, but they play smart and they play hard. In the hands of a great coach, like Norman Black, that’s more than enough to make a good team.
But this conference, they aren’t. They’re on the outside looking in — holders of a 10th spot and well behind the next team in the standing. In fact, they’re pretty much standing on thin ice — a loss would basically eliminate them.
So when the Bolts came out as victors, in a game where both teams combined to shoot 33 percent, you’d be surprised. The Bolts didn’t win because they outscored their opponent. They won because they prevented the other team to score. Besides the early start both teams had in the 1st quarter, this was a slugfest. Meralco scored 35 points in the 1st 12 minutes of action, thanks to Uyloan who scored 11. They only scored 47 in the next 36. Meralco was packing the paint and forcing Rain or Shine into tough shots over the outstretched arms of 2 defenders. If they had a kickout, they were spry and disciplined in their closeouts. It was impressive. Despite the plethora of options Rain or Shine had, they couldn’t find anything. They tried running staggered screens to free up Jeff Chan, it didn’t work. They tried running ball screens on one side, with their shooters on the weak side. That didn’t work. And whenever the Elaso Painters had any sort of momentum, Coach Norman came right back with a timeout to calm his boys down. It also helped that Newsome made timely “quiet the crowd” shots to keep the Elasto Painters at bay. It was a great performance for the Bolts and a well deserved victory.
Meralco, behind a solid and consistent defensive game, escape the clutches of playoff elimination and live to die another day with a 3-7 record while Rain or Shine drops to 5-4 and a tie with 2 teams (3 after Ginebra won their game) for the 3rd spot.