The Philippines Meralco Bolts is scheduled for a head-to-head game against the Iran Petrochimi at 7:00 P.M. (PHI time) on October 1, 2018 live from the Stadium29 in Nonthaburi, Thailand.
After a dismal 0-2 start in the 2018 FIBA Asia Champions Cup, finally the Bolts able to snag a victory in their last outing and hoping that their good fortune will continue as the tournament enters its second round.
Prior to their game versus the defending champion, the Lebanon Al Riyadi, Meralco had a hard time finding its groove in Thailand as several adversaries the team of coach Norman Black has to go through.
First Ranidel de Ocampo and Jared Dillenger unable to join to team due to their injuries, then there’s the disapproval of FIBA of not letting Chris Newsome and Cliff Hodge to play. Likewise, their original 7’1 import got injured during their practice and needed an immediate replacement who arrived and joined Meralco in Thailand.
As a result, team Philippines needed time to adjust and it costs them two games. First they were beaten by Thailand Mono Vampire in their opening match then the following day they bowed down to Japan.
Fortunately, the Mono Vampire and Al Riyadi got stuck in the middle of the Group B standings with 1-1 card which gave Meralco a chance to make it to the next round. If Thailand able to beat Lebanon then it’ll be bye-bye for Meralco Bolts Pilipinas.
Team Philippines needed to win their last game in the preliminary round and should have a winning margin of +11 in order to move to the semis.
On paper it looks tough considering that their last assignment in elims was the defending champions, the Sporting Al Riyadi of Lebanon.
The Filipino players took the challenge and they had a scoring breakout. Nino Canaleta ignited his team with back-to-back triples in the second quarter where Meralco started to mount a big lead.
Then there’s Baser Amer who is the consistent locals for team Philippines. Garvo Lanete also got his hot shooting hands and dropped 20 points.
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Anjo Caram had 11 points but his pesky defense against Lebanon import point guard Mark Lyons was a big difference.
Team Pilipinas opponent in the semis will be the Iran Petrochimi which is the number one team in Group A. Iran is undefeated in their bracket and had an average winning margin of 36 points.
Several players on Iran squad are also a member of their national team which Gilas Pilipinas played during last month’s 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.