“We are battling for a good position heading to the playoffs,” said Gregorio. “With two games left in our schedule, we are determined to have a good placing in the middle of the pack (Nos. 3 to 6) and if it is enough to push us up to No. 1 or 2, perfect.”
First, the Bolts have to hurdle Powerade, which has its own coveted goal of officially claiming at least the eighth and last slot in the quarterfinals as early as Friday in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Tigers look poised to make a surge of their own after winning back-to-back games, the last a 131-96 drubbing of Talk N Text last Sunday.
Starting with a similarly lopsided 102-84 victory over Shopinas.com, coach Bo Perasol now believes his team has the confidence and will to exact revenge over Meralco while not waiting for a game against Barako Bull on Tuesday to close the door on the quarterfinals aspirations of Alaska. “Although we are happy with the way we played in our last two games, we know that our game against Meralco is another playing field,” said Perasol.
“We understand the challenge,” he added. “However, we likewise comprehend now our strength as a team.”
Meralco can have a shot at a top two spot with wins against Powerade and Ginebra on Sunday, but Gregorio would rather have his players focusing on the game at hand and based his strategy accordingly. “We are very cautious with our game plan. One thing is certain,” said Gregorio. “We cannot play them with just offense in our mind. We want to dictate the tempo by counting stops and limiting their fast break attack.”
Meralco beat Powerade the first time they met, 98-96, when the Bolts shut out the Tigers in the last three minutes while leaning on some clutch scoring by Mark Cardona and Gabby Espinas in the stretch, last Nov. 16.
Gregorio admitted Powerade has a deeply-stocked arsenal but pinpointed the Tigers main men as the focus of the Bolts’ defense.
“Gary David is again leading the league in scoring. He must be guarded and made to bleed for his points. (Marcio) Lassiter is also playing consistent ball. He is also a marked man. Jayvee Casio is coming along very well,” enumerated Gregorio.
“Almost everyone in their lineup is capable of scoring, so our defense must really be in sync, solid and no let-up.” (NC)