Wed. Feb 28th, 2024


Meralco coach Norman Black during a semifinals game. –PBA IMAGES

Meralco coach Norman Black during a semifinals game. –PBA IMAGES

MANILA, Philippines–Meralco coach Norman Black is banking on a much-improved showing from import KJ McDaniels and a better clip from the outside in a bid to force TNT to a deciding Game 5 in their PBA Governors’ Cup semifinal series.

The Bolts were pushed to the brink of elimination after the Tropang Giga grabbed a 2-1 lead with a 99-80 win on Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum which Black cited a number of factors.

“Hopefully, KJ will bounce back in Game 4, and [we] play better as a team,” said Black.

McDaniels had 30 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks, but Black felt the former NBA player didn’t match the dominant showing he had in Game 2 when Meralco evened the series with a 124-117 overtime victory.

The other side saw import Rondae Hollis-Jefferson score 40 points and 13 rebounds to lead TNT’s triumph.

“I thought KJ was exceptional in Game 2 and dominated. [But in Game 3], [Hollis-Jefferson] was exceptional and dominated,” Black said.

Meralco also struggled from the rainbow region, making just 5-of-33 shots. Black also cited that some of those were open opportunities that the team couldn’t capitalize on.

The Bolts made only 11 of 41 attempts for a 26-percent clip in the first two games of the series.

“I thought that really played a big part [in Game 3] is the fact that we just didn’t shoot well,” the Bolts mentor said.

A Meralco victory will send the series to a decider on Sunday at Ynares Center in Antipolo City for the right to take on Barangay Ginebra in a best-of-seven title series.

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By Dave Jenks

Dave Jenks is an American novelist and Veteran of the United States Marine Corps. Between those careers, he’s worked as a deckhand, commercial fisherman, divemaster, taxi driver, construction manager, and over the road truck driver, among many other things. He now lives on a sea island, in the South Carolina Lowcountry, with his wife and youngest daughter. They also have three grown children, five grand children, three dogs and a whole flock of parakeets. Stinnett grew up in Melbourne, Florida and has also lived in the Florida Keys, the Bahamas, and Cozumel, Mexico. His next dream is to one day visit and dive Cuba.