It’s been just five games but I feel like I’ve been writing about the Meralco Bolts this season for 50.
The Bolts have faced defeat from top teams (San Miguel Beermen, Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters), they have faced defeat from bottom teams (Blackwater Elite, Barako Bull Energy), and they have faced defeat from Barangay Ginebra San Miguel (who are always in their own category). Coming into their sixth contest, will they be able to find another way to loss? Or will they finally overcome all that is wrong and take home their first W?
The Meralco Bolts know their own status right now. They are the worst defensive team in the league by a wide margin. They are giving up 109.7 points per 100 possessions and have allowed pretty much anyone to score on them. After turning Blackwater, Barako Bull, and Ginebra into offensive juggernauts for one night, the Star Hotshots will get their turn at hoping to catch fire. Their offense is currently 9th at 96.1 per 100 possessions right now. After the SMC group worked their hocus pocus by transferring Tim Cone and Joe Devance to Ginebra, Star and rookie head coach Jason Webb were sent scrambling looking for a new identity.
What’s scary for the Meralco Bolts is that the Star Hotshots have potentially seven guys who can score in double digits. Six Hotshots are averaging at least nine points per game while Alex Mallari is close with an average of 8.4. Someone that could burn up the Bolts defense is Mark Barocca, who is shooting lights out from three-point range, hitting half of his 3.2 attempts.
I tried going through HB stats to see what might be encouraging about the Bolts’ defense but my eyes melted when I saw that only John Ferriols, Joseph Sedurifa, and Rey Guevarra‘s defensive ratings were below 105. That’s pretty depressing since all three play less than 10 minutes a contest.
As expected from a team that is winless, the Bolts aren’t doing much better on offense.
Most of that stems from the fact that they’ve been so bad on defense. The Bolts could potentially be a very good offensive team in transition. Sadly, they are 10th in opponent’s turnover ratio (13.0%). The fact that they have barely been able to get out in transition locks them down to a half-court set offense where most of the time they drive blindly into the defense and hope for the best.
I keep having to emphasize this every time and maybe it’s only to give myself hope from the horrendous start to the season, but Chris Newsome has been really good. At least that is something I look forward to watching in Meralco’s games and maybe one day, he can go berserk and drag his team to victory by his lonesome.
Newsome’s statline: 18.5 PER, 11.8 PPG, 51.0 eFG%, 4.0 APG, and 24.6 AST%. Those are solid numbers for a rookie.
He’s also tied for sixth in offensive win shares (3.0) which is pretty incredible for a player on a team that has no wins to share.
It’s been five long games for the Meralco Bolts in this PBA season and it looks to be a long sixth game as well. This is a winnable game, but it surely won’t come easy. The Bolts have to display a sense of pride and hunger. If they do, we might finally see them leave the court with more points than the opposing team.
|TV: LIVE ON TV5 AND FOX SPORTS 1|
|TIME: 5:15 AM|
|VENUE: CUNETA ASTRODOME|