After seven emotionally-charged wins, Meralco Bolts head coach Norman Black admitted that burnout had kicked in during Game Two of their 2018 PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals against the Alaska Aces, Tuesday evening at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
The Grand Slam coach – whose wards were riding a seven-game winning streak prior to Tuesday – saw how deep his Bolts were down in the third quarter, as the Aces made a rousing 19-6 rally to build a high 20-point wall, 66-46.
“We got off to a very sluggish start today and we looked a little bit tired,” Black said.
The Orangemen were able to buck that, however, as they played much better come the final frame. With Allen Durham, Chris Newsome, and Baser Amer joining hands, what was once a 20-point deficit just became one with 14 ticks left.
“The only time we got our legs under us was in the fourth quarter.
“We started playing a little bit better, some of our outside shots started to fall and our defense started to click a little bit,” said the 61-year-old tactician.
But their comeback fell short, as the Aces made their freebies in the final seven seconds to go away with the 100-95 victory to send the series to one game apiece. But for Black, he’s satisfied to see the fight from his team.
“What I’m happy about the players is they did not give up, you know. They could have when we’re down by twenty. But they didn’t give up, they kept fighting and they gave themselves a chance to win the basketball game,” he lauded.
“Maybe a few breaks down the stretch might have helped us a little bit but I’m happy with the effort in the second half.”
The Bolts and the Aces are now both setting their sights on Game Three at the Cuneta Astrodome. But for Black, his main concern right now is how can he rest the tired Orangemen for a bit, to be able to play better this Thursday.
“I just want to find a way to give my players a little bit of rest so they can come back and be energized and have their legs. They didn’t have their legs tonight,” the decorated Black said.
“That’s my goal right now.”