(Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
Chris Newsome and company have lost two straight games
Over the course of the last two seasons, the Meralco Bolts have been dealing with their own inconsistencies. Sure, they have been to the Governors' Cup Finals for two consecutive seasons but they haven't cracked the code just yet they have lost twice in the Finals against the same team, the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings. And their inconsistencies have appeared to be holding them down again in the Philippine Cup.
After winning their first game to open the 43rd season of the PBA, the Bolts are now on a 2-game losing streak after losing to the lowly Alaska Aces, 103-98. That, by the way, was the Aces' first win in 3 games. And frankly, it wasn't an upset win either because Meralco wasn't playing the same way they did in the Finals against Ginebra. Not even close.
So what exactly doomed the Bolts this time?
They got Murdered Inside
The Bolts got dominated from the inside as they allowed Calvin Abueva and company to outscore them 54-20 in points in the paint. Their shooting from the 2-point area also doomed the Bolts as they only 35% of their attempts from the 2-point territory. On the other hand, Alaska went 31 for 66 from the 2-point area, a 46% shooting.
Defensive Lapses. And More
Meralco was known as a defensive-minded team over the two seasons but their defense against the Aces was simply acceptable. Sure, the Bolts were able to shut down Jeron Teng who was held to 8 points on 2 for 8 shooting from the field but for the rest of the Aces? Meralco's defense just vanished.
Another proof that Meralco's defense wasn't working at all was the fact that they got outscored in points off fast break opportunities: 14-4. The Aces were also the better team in terms of getting more points off their missed opportunities as they held an 11-9 edge in second-chance points.
Alaska's Bench produced 50 Points
As mentioned above, Meralco did contain Jeron Teng but forgot about Calvin Abueva who led Alaska with 19 points on 7 for 10 shooting. Aside from that, the bench of Norman Black failed to match the intensity of the Aces' bench troopers who combined for 50 of the Aces' 103 points. Vic Manuel also had 19 points while coming off the bench.
Norman Black is one of the league's greatest coaches and it's only a matter of time until he figures things out with his players. Having a 1-2 record this early doesn't necessarily mean that Meralco is a bad team and so is Alaska. However, the Bolts need to speed their improvements soon because their schedule isn't about to get easier. Why? the Talk N Text KaTropa are up next on the Bolts' schedule.