Turns out that there is a lot going on there.
The first obvious thing is that one of these teams will be leaving the Mall Of Asia Arena winless and neither of them wants to be that team. Obviously, Meralco doesn’t want to be the first PBA team to lose to Blackwater Elite in the Philippine Cup. And Blackwater… well, they come into every game desperate for a win.
Mike Cortez is playing a bit subpar from his usual production (7.2 PER in about 5 more minutes of PT and approximately the same Usage Rate), but if there was a game where he would come out of the locker room and think “Yeah, this is the game I go berserk on everyone and rain threes”, it would totally be against his old team right?
Last but not least, with the NCAA season over (Congratulations Letran) Art Dela Cruz and Baser Amer (Sorry San Beda) will finally be joining their PBA Teams. Dela Cruz might get the starting nod, just because Blackwater should probably try anything at this point. Baser Amer might have to watch Anjo Caram run around a bit before he gets his burn. Eventually, both of the NCAA Stars will be reunited on the court once more.
Points of Emphasis
The Meralco Bolts have to make sure that Blackwater keeps on funneling their offense to their offensive blackholes. Unbelievably, it is not just Reil Cervantes!
Cervantes is using 35.7% of Blackwater’s possessions while shooting a below league average of 41.3%.
Both of them are the only players averaging double-digit shot attempts per game on the Blackwater Elite and it should be in Meralco’s defensive interests to keep it that way.
The Bolts had a hard time coping with the Choose-How-You-Want-To-Get-Scored-On offense of the Beermen, but they should have a relatively easier time guarding Blackwater Elite to bring that atrocious 112.0 Defensive Rating down.
I can’t believe I’m going to say that it’s Rabeh Al-Hussaini again, but here it goes.
Rabeh Al-Hussaini is still going to be the Bolts’ biggest X-factor. You can’t really expect someone to just open up on the scene with an outstanding performance on the reigning League MVP (even though that would have been really nice).
Al-Hussaini will get a chance to gain some confidence going up against JP Erram and Jason Ballesteros, who are certainly not pushovers, but will be a relatively easier opponent than Fajardo. If Rabeh still can’t get it going, I promise myself to take another step towards acceptance of the truth.
|TV: LIVE ON TV5 AND FOX SPORTS 1|
|TIME: 4:15 PM|
|VENUE: MALL OF ASIA ARENA|