The Magic Number is 6.
With seven teams left in the PBA that could potentially end their campaign with at least six wins, that is the Magic Number that the Meralco Bolts (and Star Hotshots) are aiming for. With two games left on their schedule and five wins in their pockets, the Bolts will be getting their first crack at a playoff berth this Sunday.
Unfortunately, it will be against one of the hottest teams in the PBA, Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.
Rain or Shine is on a streak of five wins. During this five-game streak they have an average Offensive Rating of 109.38 and an average defensive Rating of 93.38. That offensive rating would be second in the PBA and that defensive rating would be ranked first.
Even without this five-game winning streak, Rain or Shine is a very solid defensive team. They are third in Defensive Rating (99.5) and second in Opponent eFG% (46.1). They do not aim at forcing the opposing team to turn the ball over (as evident from their 5th ranked 14.7 Opponent TOV%), but instead get them to take hard shots and collect the rebounds. And Rain or Shine does a pretty fine job at getting those defensive rebounds, ranking third in the league at 71.0 DRB%.
The Meralco Bolts are coming off a gritty win against Barangay Ginebra San Miguel. But they are still a team that isn’t very good at making shots as they are shooting at 47.4 eFG%, clinging slightly below the league average of 48.0. They still are very good at keeping the ball in their hands with a league leading 12.2 TOV%, but as mentioned above, this might not be much of a factor because Rain Or Shine are not targeting at squeezing the ball out of the Bolts.
(Once again) The Meralco Bolts are going to play the role of the underdog. They will still need to hope that Andre Emmett‘s hero ball scoring is still going to work out for the best. They will need to play solid defense to keep the endless waves of players Yeng Guiao is going to put out on the court at bay. Rain or Shine will be playing their last regular season game, and it will be up to the Meralco Bolts to stop their win streak here and now.
Also, anytime you put Yeng Guiao and Cliff Hodge within shouting distance of each other, something is bound to happen. You never know what’s it’s going to be… but you can be sure that it’ll be interesting.
One bright spot to point out for Meralco (and I purposely saved this for last): Rain or Shine’s winning streak of five games have come against five teams that are either out of the playoffs or fighting/praying for their dear lives to get in. Winning five games is no east feat, but it could be a bit more convincing with a win over teams at the top of the table.
Will the Bolts be able to punch their ticket to the playoffs this Sunday or will they have to wait for the PBA’s season closer game against KIA Carnival?
I hope we can seal the deal ASAP.
PS: I see that San Miguel Beermen and Star Hotshots have these cool hashtags like #FearTheBeer and #LabanHotShots. As a Bolts fan, I demand we come up with something as snazzy. If you leave me up to things like this, we will end up with something like #BoltsRevolt and we all know we don’t want that. Throw in your ideas for a Bolts hashtag in the comments section below!
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