Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) – November 14, 2020 – 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — The Bolts raced to an early 13-point tear then leaned on the clutch three-point shooting of their coach’s son, Aaron Black, to fend off the Beermen’s fourth-quarter charge and seal the deal in the Friday the 13th encounter at the AUF Sports Arena Powered by Smart 5G.
The young Black gunned down three triples in an 11-point outburst in the final canto as Meralco got half of its job done in this underdog matchup with the twice-to-beat defending champions.
The Bolts hope to carry this momentum to the rubbermatch tomorrow where the embattled Beermen will be hard-pressed to save their five-peat dynasty in the all-Filipino.
“We really needed this win to put a little pressure on San Miguel and make it a (virtual) best-of-three,” said coach Norman Black, who took this win as a belated gift for his birthday the other day.
“Of course it’s a confidence-booster but we told ourselves this is only halftime; we only won one game and we haven’t done anything yet. We have to get the next one,” said Aaron.
The multi-titled coach lauded his charges for their brave fight against playoffs-savvy SMB, which played without veteran guard Alex Cabagnot (hamstring).
The Bolts pulled the win even on the early exit of Raymond Almazan.
“Our guys played with a lot of heart. They played really hard. We shot the ball poorly but our defense held up. I’ve noticed the shooting of the teams are starting to go down a little bit, maybe from playing every other day so you have to focus on defense if you want to win,” said Black.
San Miguel actually shot better than Meralco, 35.1 percent against 34.5 percent.
Aaron’s shooting, though, clicked just at the right time.
With San Miguel closing in, Aaron launched his booming treys to give Meralco breathing room, his last triple making it a 76-67 affair going to the last 1:56.
“We needed a lift because we couldn’t shoot from the perimeter against San Miguel’s zone. Aaron had a lot of improvement ahead of him but he does have the confidence to shoot the basketball,” said the elder Black.
Aaron finished with 14 to back up Reynel Hugnatan’s 16.
Mo Tautuaa led SMB with 14-11.
Meanwhile, third seed TNT Tropang Giga and No. 2 Phoenix Super LPG seek to seal their semis march today by capitalizing on their win-once bonuses.