by Jonas Terrado
Meralco Bolts coach Norman Black believes the talent-laden San Miguel Beermen will eventually shake off the early jitters after his team spoiled the defending PBA Commissioner’s Cup champions’ debut last Wednesday.
Black refused to buy in the notion that the Bolts were able to crack the code of the Beermen, who were coming off a fourth straight Philippine Cup crown and favored to retain the title in the midseason tournament with the arrival top draft pick Christian Standhardinger.
“Don’t tell San Miguel that, that’s normally when you challenge them, they respond,” Black said after the 93-85 victory at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Beermen were hoping to bounce back from that stinging loss when they faced the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters last night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
Another loss could make the Beermen push the panic button. San Miguel hasn’t started 0-2 since the 2015 Governors’ Cup when it overcame such start to win the crown.
It was obvious that San Miguel was still feeling a case of championship hangover, which Meralco was quick to capitalize.
With the backcourt of Baser Amer and Chris Newsome accounting for more than half of the team’s points and import Arinze Onuaku providing his presence in the paint, the Bolts were able to produce their third win in four matches this conference.
“I’m just quite happy that we were able to face them early. Once they get their rhythm and they start finding out their rotations and who’s going to play their minutes for them, they’re going to be a very difficult team to beat,” said Black.
“They’ll still be the favorites even though they lost. They were already the best team in the league, now they’ve gotten even stronger,” added the American mentor who in 1989 guided the Beermen to the PBA’s third Grand Slam.
San Miguel plays Alaska on Saturday in an out-of-town game in Dumaguete City before returning to action on May 30 against Phoenix after the All-Star break. Meralco, meanwhile, takes on Magnolia on Friday.