It was definitely going to happen at one point. Sooner or later, the Blackwater Elite were definitely going to get their first Philippine Cup win.
The Meralco Bolts would have probably preferred to not have that win come at their expense, but what’s done is done.
The Meralco Bolts are now officially the team that popped the Blackwater Elite’s Philippine Cup cherry.
Before we talk about the Bolts, I guess it’s only appropriate to give a standing ovation to the Blackwater Elite. They have proven that they are a different team this year and that the 1-2 record they hold right now is actually a lot better than it looks.
I’ve made continuous jokes about Blackwater on various social media platforms, but now seems like a good time for those jokes end. Or at least slow down.
Blackwater Elite’s offensive rating had never gone past 100 before in the Philippine Cup. They posted 103.4 against the Meralco Bolts. They had a total of two games where they recorded an ORTG of at least 90 in last season’s Philippine Cup. This season, they surpassed that mark twice in three games.
The ball movement has certainly been better and it was something that seemed to have caught the Meralco Bolts off guard. The Bolts’ defense was always a step behind and Blackwater found the open man with the open shot more often than not. In all 33 games last season, Blackwater had topped the 50 eFG% mark three times. In this game, they had an effective FG% of exactly 50.
On the other hand, the Meralco Bolts haven’t been having a good time on the offensive side of things. They were hoping for a significant improvement this year, especially with the addition of guys like Chris Newsome.
Their current 97.7 ORTG is better than the 93.2 mark from last season’s Philippine Cup, but that takes a steady dive when Newsome isn’t on the court. He is currently 4th on the team in individual ORTG and the Bolts’ ball movement takes a huge blow when he goes to the bench.
Unfortunately, he’s been unable to finish both games. He suffered an injury during the season opener and was ejected in this game after an inadvertent elbow on an aggressive drive to the basket.
I don’t want to put much blame on the defense for this loss because of how well Blackwater played offensively. But if there was an area in which I expected the Bolts to perform much better in, it was scoring the basketball.
The thought that the Bolts shouldn’t have traded at least one of them may have popped in Norman Black’s head at least once.
The Finishing Touch
The only way this game would have ended in a more heartbreaking way would be a last second shot from Reil Cervantes. After all that I joked about Carlo Lastimosa being unfairly traded for Brian Heruela and being as much of a ballhog as Cervantas, of course it had to be him to throw in the final blow to take down the Bolts.
Rey Guevarra commited way too far out on Lastimosa, but that’s still not why I am frustrated about this loss. It’s the fact that it was Lastimosa himself that made me feel that much more depressed.
Why couldn’t it have been Jerick Canada (who I am obviously more fond of from his ABL days)?
I can’t be the only one disappointed by how the Meralco Bolts’ big men were outplayed by JP Erram, James Sena, and Jason Ballesteros (21 rebounds). I had expected the threeesome of Al-Hussaini, Nabong, and Faundo (5 Rebounds) to bring more to the table.
All they served was Al-Hussaini’s sweet high top fade.
Yes, I have started to realize and accept that maybe Rabeh is not the Meralco Bolts’ interior presence savior.