MANILA, Philippines – It might have been due to fatigue and being overwhelmed after a stirring comeback win, but Meralco Bolts head coach Ryan Gregorio says their recent lackluster performance was due to key injuries.
‘It’s hard to come out and fight against a good team with not a lot of weapons,” Gregorio said, when asked about their one-sided loss to the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters on Wednesday, March 26.
“We fought hard but in the end it just wasn’t enough.”
Swingman John Wilson was, according to Gregorio, feeling under the weather during that game. The team missed his defensive energy in 20.6 minutes of playing time per game, according to pba-online.net, and his 6.40 points per game, as he played for only 3 minutes and finished with two points and a rebound.
But perhaps the biggest reason for that loss is the team missing the 30.8-point average of import Brian Butch, who was suffering from intestinal flu.
“He was rushed to the hospital. He was complaining of stomach cramps before the game but it just got worse during the game. I just did not want to risk it,” Gregorio shared.
“He still wanted to play but I told him I don’t want him to collapse on the court, it’s just not worth it. So after the game he was just in the bathroom. Hopefully things will be better for him.”
Butch, who was immediately transported to Cardinal Santos Hospital after the game, previously went beast mode and dropped 40 points and 31 rebounds against Air21. But last Wednesday, those numbers shrank to just 11 markers and 13 boards.
“He was actually chilling after the game. Medyo natakot ako (I got a little scared),” Gregorio added. “We had to call the ambulance but he did not want to go through that situation where he would have to be carried out on a stretcher. He still wanted to walk his way out.”
Butch had been rumored to be replaced by former Sacramento Kings big man Darnell Jackson, who is in town in case Meralco chooses to go with him, but Butch’s stellar performance against the Express seems to have affected Meralco’s decision.
Following Butch’s recent subpar production, Gregorio assured he won’t just abandon the import, who has boosted his team to a 3-3 win-loss card.
“I’m not a fair-weather coach. I know what he has done for our team,” Gregorio explained.
“We’re in a very good situation primarily because of him. We’re 3 and 3, we’re in the middle of the pack. Some of the things that he has done for us are well-appreciated. So in one bad game and because of his condition, you don’t want to abandon him and all of a sudden he has no friends.”
Asked if Meralco will consider bringing in Jackson as a temporary replacement, Gregorio maintained an open-ended response.
“It has always been an option but it’s not a solid decision yet. There’s no rush to make that decision. The more important thing now is Brian is treated.”
‘Rest as important as work’
The injuries to his key players and just the plain fatigue from playing 3 games in 6 days is enough for Gregorio to call a much-needed break.
He is not afraid to admit the grueling schedule has taken its toll on his players.
“It was just tough. Some of it is because of our schedule. That’s part of the game but it’s just unfortunate.”
The good news for the Bolts is they have a 7-day spread before returning to action on Wednesday, April 2 against Barangay Ginebra.
This break, Gregorio says, is very welcome for every member of the team.
“The more important thing for us right now is to rest. At this point, rest is as important as work.” – Rappler.com