The Meralco Bolts is scheduled for a head-to-head game against the San Miguel Beermen (SMB) at 6:45 PM on November 15, 2020, live from the AUF Sports Arena and Cultural Center in Angeles City, Pampanga.
Determined to squeeze out something special in their first all-Filipino playoffs in five years, Meralco’s Reynel Hugnatan and rookie Aaron Black combined for 30 points to force a do-or-die match versus the five-time defending champion San Miguel.
As his ward stalled the upper-seeded team, 78-71, Bolts’ head coach Norman Black said: “The guys played with a lot of heart out there. They just played hard. We didn’t shoot well, but our defense held up.”
Up by four points in the crucial fourth frame, 71,67, Hugnatan knocked in a perimeter shot then Black banged in a three-pointer, paving the way for Meralco’s win.
“It’s halftime. We haven’t achieved anything yet. We still need to win one more game,” said Black, who pumped in three treys overall and finished with 14 markers and three rebounds.
Playing for 36 minutes, Hugnatan came through with 16 points on top of seven rebounds. Baser Amer, Chris Newsome, Cliff Hodge, and Bong Quinto played their part, combining for 38 points.
The offense for both Meralco and San Miguel was lackluster, both shooting under 36-percent. Hence, both squad just relied on their defense. Woefully for the Beermen, Bolts’ defense was more impressive, as it holds SMB to just 11 points in the first quarter.
Very unusual, Moala Tautuaa only collected 14 points for San Miguel, who had to endure Alex Cabagnot’s absence due to a strained hamstring. Cabagnot average 13.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in the eliminations.
Also playing hurt are veterans Chris Ross and Marcio Lassiter, who tallied 12 and 10 points, respectively.
“My concern is the condition of the players. We’re not healthy. So we want to manage their condition,” said SMB head coach Leo Austria.
With the fourth-seeded Beermen’s twice-to-beat advantage already rub out, can the No. 5 seeded Bolts took advantage and capitalize on their opponent’s recent desolations? Or will SMB’s championship experience help them get through Meralco’s impending provocation? Let’s see.