Looking at the things that both helped and cost them the victory
Chirs Newsome only had 7 points before fouling out. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
If you happened to be a fan of the Meralco Bolts, then you have all the reasons to be happy after the Bolts took an important Game 1 victory against the Star Hotshots via a 72-66 come-from-behind win to start their best-of-5 semifinal series. However, one cannot simply deny the mere fact that even diehard fans cannot be satisfied with the outcome of the game, with the way Norman Black's players played the game, to begin with. One may blame the fact that Meralco only had a short period of time to prepare coming into Game 1 as they had to beat the Blackwater Elite during their do-or-die quarterfinal game. One may even blame fatigue factor. There were many things that contributed to the Bolts and there were many things that also ruined them the game and might have allowed Star to win.
Below are the Good, the Bad and, the Worse:
Okay. Let's begin with the good things that enabled Meralco to win Game 1 last night. Allen Durham had another one of his monstrous games as he led the Bolts with 23 points and 23 REBOUNDS. In fact, only Durham had a respectable shooting percentage last night as he made 9 of his 16 attempts, good for 56% field goal shooting.
Another good thing that helped the Bolts especially in the 4th quarter was Jared Dillinger's 15 points off the bench.In fact, it was Dillinger's basket approaching the final 60 seconds of the game which gave the Bolts the lead for good as Star failed to score from that point on. Without Dillinger's timely made three-pointers, the game would have ended differently.
One more thing, Kris Acox's offensive output was limited to 7 points on 3 of 8 field goal shooting and if you're Norman Black, you'd be happy with this defensive success by the Bolts' big men, right?
As mentioned above, the Bolts also did tons of things that put them in difficult situations last night. For example, only their import, Allen Durham managed to make the most of his opportunities as the Bolts as a team, only made 35% of their field goal attempts and if you're Norman Black, you would be disappointed despite the win, right? In addition to this, the usually explosive backcourt tandem of Baser Amer and Chris Newsome only combined for 17 points on a combined horrible 5 of 19 field goal shooting. Another notable bad thing that may have compromised the outcome of the game was the Bolts' forgettable performance from rainbow country. Sure, Jared Dillinger's trey late in the 4th was proved to be the turning point but you can't just make 8 of your 30 ATTEMPTS from downtown and expect to win in the PBA, in the semifinals, against a team like the Star Hotshots.
Okay. Let's not forget the mere fact that the Meralco Bolts allowed the Star Hotshots to bury them back in the first quarter when the Bolts went 5 minutes without scoring a thing until Cliff Hodge stopped the bleeding with a free throw and Allen Durham finally converted the Bolts' first field goal in 12 attempts. By the end of the first frame, Meralco had 7 points compared to the Hotshots' 21 points. As a team, the Bolts only made TWO of their 18 shot attempts in the first quarter alone.
They may be able to come out with the win on this one but Norman Black knows, as well as his players, that if Meralco wants another shot at the title, they cannot start the game by going scoreless for the first 5 minutes and rely heavily on their import to the heavy lifting because no matter how good Durham is, the Star Hotshots will find other ways to shut him down or shut down the other players.