The Meralco Bolts is scheduled for a Game 1 Semi-Finals head-to-head match against the Talk ‘N Text TNT Tropang Giga at 5:45 PM on March 24, 2023 live from the Ynares Center at Antipolo City, Rizal.
The Final-Four of this year’s version of the third conference has commenced today and scheduled for the main event is the battle of the sister team, the Tropang Giga and the Bolts. Usually, it’s the latter who dominates the season-ending tourney yet the former will also try to prove that this time around it’ll be their turn to reach the championship round.
The semifinal showdown between the TNT Tropang Giga and the Meralco Bolts promises to be a thrilling match of Offense vs Defense. This matchup is a repeat of their 2019 PBA Governors’ Cup semifinal, where the Tropang Giga emerged victorious. TNT, the top offensive team in the playoffs with an average of 118 points per game, is on a nine-game winning streak. Meanwhile, the Bolts, the top defensive team, are fueled by their burning desire to win their elusive championship.
TNT may have to play without Kelly Williams, who is out with a calf injury. However, coach Jojo Lastimosa is optimistic that his team can still match up well with the Bolts. He believes that they have a good chance of making the finals against the winner of the Barangay Ginebra-San Miguel Beer finale. Dave Marcelo and the returning Poy Erram will step in for Williams. But with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, RR Pogoy, Calvin Oftana, Mikee Williams, Jayson Castro, and Glenn Khobuntin in their lineup, they won’t lack firepower.
On the other hand, Bolts coach Norman Black believes that balance and fresh legs are essential for his team if they are to have a shot at another Governors’ Cup finals stint. “My biggest concern right now is how to get my guys fresh again as going to this tough battle with Magnolia (in the quarters) then having this series with TNT is going to be rough, particularly since TNT is a run and gun team,” said Black. “They love to get up and down the floor. They use a lot of energy in their end of the offensive court. But I think we can keep up with them. We can run with them. How I get my guys ready for the game is very important.”
With TNT as a scoring team and Meralco as a defensive-oriented team, Black said: “Something’s got to give one way or another.” The imports fit with their respective teams and their respective schemes, adding excitement to the series. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and KJ McDaniels are former teammates with the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA, and their matchup is exciting in itself. McDaniels was with TNT the last time the Tropa and the Bolts clashed in the semis.
“The balance is very important. KJ is not the kind of guy who scores 45 or 50 points a night but he will give you 25 to 30, so we need the other guys to step in and contribute,” said Black.
Lastimosa loves the matchup, man-for-man, sounding very confident that his team can sustain their hot romp. However, Meralco fought with an unwavering resolve and outlasted Magnolia in a tough overtime battle, eking out a 113-107 win to secure the last berth in the PBA Governors’ Cup Final Four. The Bolts charged back from a seven-point deficit in the last three minutes of regulation play, forced the OT on an Aaron Black buzzer-beater, and pulled off the victory.
Despite TNT’s top-seed standing and their impressive offensive output, Meralco has shown they can stand up to a challenging matchup. The Bolts are a defensive powerhouse, and they won’t back down without a fight. The TNT-Meralco sibling duel promises to be a match of wits, strategies, and sheer talent. Don’t miss it.