Collapsing in the endgame, there was no doubt in coach Norman Black’s mind where Meralco failed to deliver in its game against Alaska on Wednesday: free-throw shooting.
“It was a tough loss. If you’re up by nine with four minutes to go, you should win the basketball game, but we missed a lot of foul shots tonight and didn’t make the plays when we needed it,” he said, after the Bolts’ 81-79 defeat to the Aces.
Meralco was shell-shocked at the foul line, going on a paltry 31-percent as they went on a 5-of-16 clip. That paled in comparison to the 74.7-percent shooting they had before this game, which is good for second in the league when it comes to charities.
“To shoot 5-of-16 is not very professional, at least in the PBA level. It’s probably what cost us the game tonight,” lamented Black. “We’re number two in the league in free throw shooting so I didn’t expect us to shoot 30-percent.”
Black also focused on Meralco’s defense late, which allowed Alaska to drill three treys in that late fightback, the last coming from Chris Banchero sealing the win.
The Grand Slam-winning mentor offered no excuse in the meltdown, and only said, “Alaska made their three-point shots in the end to win the game, so we just got to go back in practice and get better.”
With this loss still in mind, Black wants nothing from his team but to rekindle that lost touch and cash in on those freebies come the next game.
“We just have to get in the gym and make those foul shots. We have no choice. We play a team on Wednesday so we have to be ready for that game,” he said.
Meralco faces Phoenix next Wednesday.