Yes, it’s Easter. Nevertheless, forget the B-Meg Llamados and the Meralco Bolts being friendly
with one another.
The two teams have been engaged in a highly physical and highly emotional battle, and they’re not expected to back down meeting in a do-or-die faceoff.
Expect war, not peace, as they knock each other out for the right to play the Barangay Ginebra Kings in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinal round.
Game time is at 6:30 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“It’s a knockout game. It will be tough; it will be intense; nothing will come easy. We’re
ready to get physical and go to war,” said B-Meg coach Tim Cone.
“We have been courageous fighting imminent death by simply refusing to give up. We will claw our
way out of this rut by playing good defense and by fighting with all our might,” said Meralco
coach Ryan Gregorio.
It’s an exciting series now also marked by strong statements from the opposing coaches.
“It’s not my habit to blame the referees after a lost game. I preach accountability in my team
and as such, I want to get better on certain aspects in the game that we are in control of,
specifically, free throw accuracy, shot selection and lock-down defensive consistency. Blaming the refs is an escape. We know better than that,” said Gregorio.
After Game One, Cone said: “Well, with the way the referees called the game, it more resembled a
wrestling match than a basketball game. I feel bad for James (Yap), he’s being bludgeoned out on
the court. I worry about his health.”
Gregorio took exception to that.
“Defense is our strength zone. It is something that we enjoy doing and we do excellently.
Describing it as bordering to a wrestling or boxing match is a huge disservice to the kind of effort that we render to find ways to win despite our obvious lack of manpower,” Gregorio said.
“We play good basketball and win games by playing within our comfort level. It is with toughness, ruggedness on defense, but never dirty,” Gregorio added.
Gregorio said they didn’t condone Macmac Cardona’s flagrant foul on Denzel Bowles resulting to
his early disqualification in Game Two.
Cardona was spared of suspension, thus, would rejoin the Bolts in their knockout duel with the
Gregorio feels Cardona is misunderstood.
“His passion for winning is misconstrued as arrogance, but for me, I am so lucky to have somebody like him who is willing to do everything on the floor, one who does not hold back and back down,” said Gregorio.
“We cannot win without him so I told him to always keep his emotions in check despite the rough
housing that he endures. He acknowledged that, and promised to respond with maximum restraint,”
Meralco drew first blood, 103-81, Sunday before B-Meg rebounded with a 95-85 win Wednesday. (SB)