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PBA: Bolts go for sweep

Allen Durham posts up against Kristoffer Acox (PBA Images)

Allen Durham posts up against Kristoffer Acox (PBA Images)

Game Today (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
7 p.m. – Meralco vs Star

Game Tomorrow (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
7 p.m. – Ginebra vs TNT KaTropa

The Meralco Bolts shoot for a sweep of the Star Hotshots and a return trip to the finals as the two teams return to the big city for Game 3 of their best-of-five semifinal series in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Despite winning the first two games via contrasting results in Laguna, including Tuesday’s comprehensive 98-74 victory in Sta. Rosa, the Bolts understand that nothing is all assured as they expect the Hotshots to put up a gallant fight in the 7 p.m. showdown.

“Sana maulit namin yung ganung laro, yung halos perfect,” said Meralco’s Ranidel de Ocampo. “Pero alam naman naming hindi magiging madali sa Game 3. At the same time ang pinakamahirap talaga tapusin ang isang series so sana magawa namin.”

Bolts import Allen Durham, who seems to be far from bothered from the ankle injury he suffered against Blackwater in the quarterfinals, would rather not give the Hotshots any lifeline.

“That’s the plan, so we’ll see,” he said.

And after seeing the best and worst from his team since Game 1’s 72-66 comeback victory in Binan, Meralco coach Norman Black is urging for better play against a Star team expected to keep its defensive intensity going despite the odds stacked against them.

“We don’t expect them to give up, that’s for sure. We expect them to put pressure on our offense and try to put us out of our offensive schemes,” said Black, whose team was able to find weakness in Star’s pressure defense at the start with its outside shooting that resulted in a Game 2 blowout.

“We really have to play our best basketball to beat them in Game 3. I mean, at this point of the season that’s what is all about, you have to be in a high-level of basketball if you want to win a championship or you wanna make the championship,” he added.

That mentality is something the Hotshots hope to find. But coach Chito Victolero’s team has been outplayed ever since a 20-3 start in Game 1, with import Kris Acox being dominated by Durham and the rest of the team yet to find a way to tighten its perimeter defense.

Worse, Paul Lee is likely done for the series after he was forced to sit out four minutes into Game 2 because of his recurring knee injury.

Marc Pingris, Star’s unquestioned leader, wants to see more sense of urgency from his teammates as they try to stay alive in the series and avoid a third straight semifinal exit.

“Ang lagi niyang (Star coach Chito Victolero) sinasabi sana may matutunan pero parang sa tingin wala kaming natututunan e,” Pingris said. “Yun yon e. Wala kaming natututunan sa mga talo namin e. Parang hindi semis e. Hopefully itong Game 2 na ‘to.”