The returning Meralco Bolts showed no signs of rust in their return to the PBA Philippine Cup after a 95-83 win over the skidding Terrafirma Dyip on Thursday, September 16.
This easy win came despite the Bolts losing young gun Aaron Black to an apparent hand injury, and not having team leaders Chris Newsome and Cliff Hodge from the get-go.
“I just got word that he hurt his hand. He didn’t break it. I’m not sure how serious it is yet,” said his father and head coach Norman Black in the postgame presser.
“He has to go to the hospital to get X-rays. So we’ll figure it out later. But at least, there are no broken bones, and hopefully he’ll heal as quickly as possible.”
The younger Black started, and lasted for exactly two minutes before tweaking his right hand. Reserve guard Anjo Caram took his place, and stood out with 13 points and 5 assists on 5-of-6 shooting and 3-of-4 from three.
Off another trademark balanced attack from his available wards like Caram, Bong Quinto, Raymond Almazan, and rookie Alvin Pasaol, the elder Black will have his hands full on recreating Thursday night’s success since he will again miss the services of his key veterans.
“I’m pretty sure [Newsome and Hodge] won’t be back in our next game because that game is on Saturday, but I’m counting on them to be back by the next time we play after that,” he said without going into specifics.
“I’m not really sure what the schedule is, but whenever we play next week, they should be back already.”
Meralco was held out alongside the Alaska Aces last week due to health and safety protocols, but it was not specified then who was being monitored for COVID-19.
Delays, injuries, and holdouts aside, the Bolts still have plenty of energy and momentum after winning and holding on to the second seed with a 7-2 record, thus keeping their shot for the final twice-to-beat playoff spot alive and well.
“I thought by the time we came back to the games, and we were on the court again, I thought the other teams would be ahead of us, but because of certain teams losing to certain teams, we ended up with those two losses, which kept us in second place,” Black said.
“This win today was a big one for us. We have another big game on Saturday against Blackwater. Hopefully we can get that game, then we have a decent chance of trying to go for the twice-to-beat.” – Rappler.com