Thursday, October 27, 2011

Alaska versus Meralco Bolts in the PBA

HIS Meralco team has just recently wielded the upset axe so coach Ryan Gregorio should know how to avoid it. That is why Gregorio keeps stressing the need for his Bolts to be on their toes when they tackle the winless Alaska Aces Friday in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

 “Alaska is a dangerous team to battle at this point,” said Gregorio on the eve of the match his team needs to follow up its 80-70 stunner over previously unbeaten Petron Blaze. “Their 0-4 mark is not an indication of their roster power,” he added of Alaska. 

“They are one of the elite teams in the league and they are bound to break out of their slump. We will do our best to prevent it.” Mainly due to the intricacies of the triangle offense-based system being implemented by new head coach Joel Banal, plus the fact Alaska’s erstwhile injured main go-to guys, LA Tenorio and Cyrus Baguio, are slow to regain their old fiery form, the Aces have indeed struggled, most recently an 84-120 shellacking from Rain or Shine. 

 Still, Banal believes a breakthrough win is in the offing. "In our first three games our bigs played well and our guards struggled. In our loss to Rain or Shine our guards stepped up and played well but our bigs were nowhere to be found. Our goal tomorrow is to join forces. If both our bigs and guards contribute, then we have a game," he said. 

 Gregorio is not one to fall into any trap, however, emphasizing there is nothing more treacherous than a hurting foe. “You look at their roster and you will realize how packed they are on all fronts. Defense is the reason why we are winning games despite playing with a depleted roster and defense will still be given emphasis against a team trying to enter the win column,” he stated. 

 It is indeed its ability to make stops that has made Meralco a serious contender notwithstanding the absence of not only Sol Mercado but also Mark Cardona, Chris Ross and Chris Timberlake. Fully recovered from a pre-season knee injury, Mercado made a grand debut in the conference against Petron. The Bolts were also relentless in defense, not allowing the Boosters to shoot better than in the middle 30 percent from the field that limited the latter to 18.7 points below their conference average
The same kind of mind-set is what Gregorio wants from his team this time out.

“We are very ‘cautious’ with our approach against Alaska,” he stated. “No way are we going to the game thinking that it’s going to be a sure victory.

“We will definitely come out with a strong defensive mind-set similar to our approach when we battled the erstwhile unbeaten Petron.” (NC)

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