Rooting for the Meralco Bolts in this early season has been a roller coaster ride. A roller coaster that starts really high in the air and you feel really excited at the beginning. Then it starts to drop and you start to feel a bit uneasy, but it’s that good type of uneasiness.
Then the roller coaster just keeps dropping until you start feeling that it should stop dropping and you start fearing for your life.
Finally it reaches the point where you realize that it’a a free fall and you just want to take off the emergency seat belt and fall off the tracks.
That might seem a bit harsh, but that’s pretty much how the start of this season has felt.
The Bolts gave up 105 points to Talk ‘N Text in this game and allowed them to shoot a very efficient 55.4 eFG%. I don’t think I need to point out that this was bad.
But then again, it’s the same old story over and over again in their first three games.
They have yet to log a game with a defensive rating below 100. It would have been easier to take that in if those losses were only to teams like TNT and the San Miguel Beermen, but once you put in a bad defensive outing against Blackwater in the middle, you have to start worrying about the Bolts’ defense. As much as I admire how far Blackwater’s game has improved, you can’t take a team’s defense seriously if you allow them to post a 103.4 offensive rating.
It was the same story here against Talk ‘N Text. From the start of the game, Meralco couldn’t find a way to stop anyone and the Tropang Texters ran away with a 16-point first quarter lead. They were pretty much on cruise control for the rest of the game.
To emphasize on how much the Bolts need to improve their offense, all you have to do is look at the points of the opposing team’s players.
From the three teams that played the Bolts, a total of 36 players were fielded. Only three players ended up not scoring. While no one scored more than 20 points, a whopping total of 15 players scored in double digits.
Just think about that for one second.
That means that the Bolts’ losses weren’t at the hand of any singular offensive output from the opposition, but it was because they just simply failed to stop anyone from scoring at all.
Again, SMB (101.1 ORTG) and TNT (104.0 ORTG) are the two best offensive teams in the PBA right now so you can’t be too harsh on the Bolts. But it still is very discouraging.
Like giving up 107.6 points per 100 possessions discouraging.
WAIT, WHY ARE THERE SO MANY WOES?
The truth hurts, but even the Bolts’ offense has been sputtering since their promising opening game against the Beermen.
Even against Talk ‘N Text, the league’s second worst defensive team (103.3 DRTG), the Bolts still couldn’t find their offensive rhythm and posted a mere 93.2 points per 100 possessions.
Their offense doesn’t really feature much right now aside from drives to the basket and a kickout here and there. The three-point shooting has been bad, as they hold the title for worst three point shooting team in the PBA at 21.7%. The ball rotation hasn’t been that smooth either. Chris Newsome has been nice and he finally got to finish a game without being injured or getting ejected, but he’s still learning on the fly as coach Black seems to be experimenting with Newsome at the point guard spot.
What is hopeful about their offense is that every now and then, with Jimmy Alapag leading the possession, we’ve had the chance to see the Bolts pull of some pretty good plays. Not enough to drive this team forward, but one can hope.
All is not lost for the Bolts. I hope.
Amid all of the chaos on offense, it seems that they at least have a future ahead of them. Their 4th overall pick in Chris Newsome continues to be playing well. He’s doing a goob job balancing distributing the ball (24.2 AST%) and scoring efficiently (11.3 points, 52.2 eFG%). Baser Amer, their 7th overall pick, had a quiet debut and struggled early on in this game, but found his groove in garbage time and scored eight points. It might serve as a huge confidence booster later on.
Another draft pick that impressed was the 7th pick of the 3rd round, Joseph Sedurifa. Sedurifa came in, played solid defense, hustled, and showed everyone that he too belonged on this court as he registered four points, three rebounds, and two steals in 10 minutes.
In other good news, the Meralco Bolts will be taking on the Barako Bull Energy next on Novermber 15. While they do have a win against Ginebra under their belts, they also have the PBA’s worst offense (90.6 ORTG).
If the Bolts still fail to win that game, I’ll be that much closer to accepting that this roller coaster is plunging into a pit of infinite depth.