POWERADE got Meralco's number the first time they met in the PBA Commissioner's Cup.
On Friday the Bolts plan on not only exacting revenge, but also salvaging the mid-season tourney's lone remaining playoff berth when they tangle in sudden-death at the Cuneta Astrodome.
No less than Tigers coach Bo Perasol knows they are in for a tough one
"We all understand the urgency of the situation. We all know what it will take to advance.Nothing is gonna be easy," he said.
Meralco counterpart Ryan Gregorio wholeheartedly agrees.
"Last chance to book a ticket to the playoffs. This is an opportunity that we must seize and not let go," he stated.
There are some angles to be met head-on and tackled, like the opposing teams' respective strengths and weaknesses, the latter no matter how few.
Powerade came from behind to beat Meralco 94-82 the first time they met Feb. 26 and Gregorio has
used the lessons learned from not only that match but also from the others the Tigers have played in laying down a simple strategy.
"The plan is to limit their team output," bared Gregorio. "They are averaging 101 points per game. We cannot battle them toe to toe on offense. That can be disastrous for us. Instead, the battle plan must be executed on the defensive end. If we limit them to less than 90, then we might have a chance."
At dead-center of Meralco's crosshairs is Gary David, who torched the Bolts for 29 points in their first meeting and has so far put up some very impressive numbers.
"His 27.9 average is the most among the locals in 20 seasons. His fiery hands must be extinguished. Our defense against him will be the key to our success," said Gregorio of the guard whose conference average is the highest the league has seen since Allan Caidic's 27.1 in 1991. David's season average so far is 27.9 ppg, highest in a tournament since Nelson Asayto9no's 28.8 in the 1997 All-Filipino.
"His numbers are incredible. His fiery hands must be extinguished. Our defense against him will be the key to our success," added Gregorio.
That does not mean the likes of Marcio Lassiter, Jayvee Casio and import Dwayne Jones have been
forgotten. "Their outputs must also be limited," stated Gregorio.
In their first meeting, Meralco started out hot but faded just when Powerade gained momentum.
Perasol wants a reprise of that, but would be pleased even more should his charges jump the gun and sustain the attack until the end.
That is precisely what the Bolts themselves want to do and would be relying most on Earl Barron,
Macmac Cardona, Sol Mercado and Gabby Espinas to lead the way.
The winner of the Powerade-Meralco match takes on the loser of the other playoff game for the No. 2 slot, between Barangay Ginebra and B-Meg, in the best-of-three quarterfinals.(NC)