IN good position to claim one of the top two spots in the elimination round of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup, the Meralco Bolts look to fortify their position some more with a victory today against the TNT KaTropa in their 7 p.m. main game encounter at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Second-running to date with a 7-2 record, the Bolts shoot for their eighth win in the midseason PBA tournament that could well secure for them a top-two finish and earn the twice-to-beat advantage that goes with it in the quarterfinals.
Meralco is currently riding a four-game winning streak with its last victory coming at the expense of erstwhile streaking Alaska Aces, 89-74, on June 17.
The Bolts cranked up their defense in said game, limiting the Aces to just 33% shooting from the floor that considerably affected their ability to keep in step with the Bolts.
Meralco also had it balanced on offense, with six players scoring in double-digits led by the 18 of Chris Newsome.
Import Arinze Onuaku had 14 points to go along with 23 rebounds.
Coach Norman Black viewed their victory as a huge one in their goal of getting the playoff incentive and they are hoping to build on it as they take on the KaTropa.
“This was a critical game for us if we wanted to try to get that twice-to-beat advantage. Now that we were able to beat Alaska at least we can now start to focus on that. Once again it was a good team effort on our part,” Mr. Black said postgame.
While they are already assured of advancing to the next round of competition, the KaTropa (6-3) are still angling for a victory in today’s game, more so since they have lost their last two matches against the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok and San Miguel Beermen in that order.
In its 99-94 loss to San Miguel on June 17, TNT just could not overcome the Beermen’s consistency throughout the contest and fell to the defeat.
Import Joshua Smith led TNT with 26 points with Roger Pogoy and Don Trollano adding 13 points each.
But despite the loss, TNT coach Nash Racela said the rough patch they are having should only make the team better heading into the playoffs.
“Our main concern right now is how to get better as a team. What is important is that we get to the level where we want to be come playoff time,” said Mr. Racela.
Meanwhile, playing in the 4:30 p.m. curtain-raiser are the GlobalPort Batang Pier (4-5) and Columbian Dyip (4-6) in an all-important game that could determine their fate in the tournament.