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Meralco finds spark in Mark Macapagal’s hot hands



Friday night was a special moment for Mark Macapagal as he was surrounded by members of the press for the first time in a long while. His teammate, Mike Cortez, even pretended to be one of them, placing his smartphone near Macapagal’s mouth, as if recording what he’s saying.

After what Macapagal did on the floor, everyone was cognizant: it was a postgame talk they shouldn’t miss.

Macapagal entered Friday night’s game with conference totals of a pedestrian: four points, 21 minutes, and no three-point conversions in seven games played.Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Meralco finds spark in Mark Macapagal's hot hands

It isn’t surprising why he isn’t getting a Lion’s share of the minutes, as he is buried behind Gary David and John Wilson in the Meralco Bolts’ rotation. However, With the NLEX Road Warriors denying the Bolts’ main gunner, David, impressively, Macapagal earned a huge chunk of the minutes to lead Meralco to a 97-82 win in Game 1 of their quarterfinals series.

Macapagal played 19 minutes, and hit five-for-10 from downtown to finish with a conference-high 22 points, adding three rebounds and an assist to cap off a breakout performance.

“Against a team like NLEX that plays good defense, they give you the catch and shoot. They don’t give you the catch and let you dribble around,” Bolts head coach, Norman Black, said. “They play long so adjustment is when you get possession you have to get yourself open to be in a position to just shoot the ball.”

Macapagal is an excellent catch-and-shoot guy, and he showed it on Friday night as four of his five treys were assisted. Meralco constantly set up Macapagal for the long range shot to counter NLEX’s length.

“I give credit to my teammates for looking for me, and maganda kasi ang scouting report ng NLEX kay Gary. Napaganda para sa akin yun dahil nakay Gary yung attention,” Macapagal said.

David finished with just 13 points, and was one-for-three from three-point land. Macapagal added Black was wary of what he can bring, and told the sniper he may be able to crack the regular rotation. Fortunately for the Bolts, he is always ready to pull the trigger.

“Yung elimination, tapos na yun. Ang kailangan namin is two wins. Sabi ni coach before the game be ready lang dahil baka magamit ako for adjustments,” Macapagal shared.

“Yun naman ang role ko for many years na so ginagawa ko lang. If somebody is down, somebody has to step up.”

Perimeter defense hasn’t been too impressive for the Road Warriors. They allow the third highest three-point field goal percentage in the league. They are the fifth-worst defensive team, and also the fifth-worst in opponents’ effective field goal percentage.

Macapagal only seized the opportunity, and unless NLEX adjusts, an explosion like what he did on Friday is likely bound to happen again.