By JONAS TERRADO
Payback is not the primary goal coach Norman Black and the Meralco Bolts as they take on the San Miguel Beermen in the PBA Governors’ Cup quarterfinals.
As the No. 4 seed, the Bolts secured a quarterfinal bonus, giving them two opportunities to atone for their 26-point collapse against the Beermen in the eliminations last March 5.
Black, perhaps refusing to admit Meralco’s desire for redemption, however, is focusing on just getting that one win against SMB in order to move towards another semifinal appearance.
“I just look at it as we have to beat them once,” Black said after Meralco’s 109-90 romp of Phoenix Super LPG on Friday, March 11 that sealed the twice-to-beat.
But Black is also hoping that the lessons of that meltdown, which saw SMB marching back behind an explosive performance from its import Shabazz Muhammad, will help Meralco get through the tough quarterfinal showdown.
Muhammad fired 45 of his 57 points in the second half while the Bolts slowly crumbled with missed shots and crucial turnovers.
“I can’t bring back what happened in the last game. It is very obvious that we would like to watch that game again, which I’ve actually done a couple of times already and try to learn from it so we don’t make the same mistakes if we play them again, when we play them again,” he said.
“But going into the game, you start off 0-0 so that would be my focus, just worrying about that particular game the next time we play San Miguel,” added Black.
The Bolts were glad to have that incentive after a late swoon that saw them drop three straight games, including their meeting against the Beermen.
Meralco got back to its winning ways behind import Tony Bishop and Allein Maliksi, pulling away in the third to beat Phoenix.
“It was a must-win. You don’t want to enter the playoffs on a losing note,” Black said. “I mean, confidence can be very fleeting. It can be there one minute, it can be gone the next. You really want to gain some confidence by getting a couple of wins, or at least one win in this case, so when you do go up against San Miguel, at least you have a good feeling about yourself and about your game.
“This was a big win for us. It’s good that it helped us get the twice-to-beat, but at the same time, it’s good to be coming off a win going into the playoffs.”