The Meralco Bolts and the Northport Batang Pier will face off at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City on Friday, July 16, 2021, in the much-awaited 46th season of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
Below is the live streaming of the said match which will begin at 6:00 PM.
Meralco aims to continue where it left off last season as the Bolts prepare for Season 46 of the Philippine Basketball Association.
The Bolts, like the rest of the field, have been practicing for the previous two months, culminating in two bubble training camps in Laoag, Ilocos Norte.
Meralco coach Norman Black remarked in an interview that his team is more than ready for the new season, which starts with a game against NorthPort Batang Pier.
“From the Meralco standpoint, everything is in place already. We’re starting to focus on little things like out of bounce plays, quarter plays, no trick defenses, just so we’re prepared for just about everything,” said Black.
“At this point, we’re pretty much ready,” Black said, adding that he likes what he’s seen so far from a Bolts team that he believes is the most loaded he’s seen since taking over the franchise’s coaching job in 2014.
The Bolts’ preparation, however, is inadequate according to Black due to the unavailability of tune-up games.
“We only played against each other. I know we look good against each other, but I’m not sure how we look against other teams,” said Black.
“Anyway, all the teams are in the same situation, nobody has the advantage over the other teams, so we just get out there and play,” he added.
Baser Amer, the team’s longstanding ace point guard, has departed, leaving playmaking duties to Anjo Caram, Nard Pinto, and Clark bubble top rookie Aaron Black. With the additions of Belo and Pasaol, they were able to tweak their lineup.
Meanwhile, NorthPort could be without 7-1 colossus Greg Slaughter, who is recuperating from an injury. But Robert Bolick is back, and the FIBA World Cup veteran will likely team up with Sean Anthony to lead their charge.
Northport Coach Pido Jarencio also has two Rookie Draft picks in Jaime Malonzo and Troy Rike, which is expected to provide the Batang Pier with size and athleticism.
Last year, the Meralco Bolts played in the semifinals of the PBA bubble. It even pushed the eventual champions, Barangay Ginebra, to its limit as they tied the best-of-five semis series to 2-2, thanks to Reynel Hugnatan’s clutch shot. The team however was decisively killed by Ginebra in the Game 5 of their semis series, 83-80.
Meanwhile, the Northport Batang Pier were unable to penetrate the PBA bubble playoffs as they only managed to win once in 11 games in the elimination round.
In December 2020, the PBA held its last game, crowning Barangay Ginebra as Philippine Cup champion in a bubble in Clark, Pampanga.
Unlike last season’s setup, the league will have a closed-circuit system for the Philippine Cup this time, with teams, league employees, and the media encouraged to keep a venue-home pattern to limit COVID-19 exposure.
The games will be held four times a week. The conference is also scheduled to go through the end of October.