Meralco suffers power failure vs. Pure Energy fueled Powerade
Powerade 81 vs. Meralco 66
by rick olivares
October 30, 2010
The Meralco Bolts may be the new team on the block but they are actually a collection of players who are in the twilight of their career, discards from other squads, league newcomers, and one legit superstar.
When Mark Cardona called for time early in the second quarter, the scoring ace crumpled to the floor and clutched his ankle. When he was brought to the dugout, Meralco’s game followed him but went out the south gate.
At the half and the Powerade Tigers up 44-33, the Bolts’ coaching staff led by Ryan Gregorio huddled outside to talk about what happened. The first thing Gregorio asked was about Cardona.
“I think he’s done,” said assistant Ronnie Magsanoc.
After a quick exchange of notes, the coaching staff went in. Cardona had his right ankle soaked in ice and was in pain.
“Let’s show some pride,” urged Gregorio. “We are not a one-man show.” The three-time champion coach drew up some formations on the white board on how they were to change up their defense at the start of the third quarter. “I need you all to focus on what we need to do here. I need you to commit to what our plan is.”
His team nodded. The plan called for the Bolts to play man-to-man and when the Tigers made their second pass, they were to switch to a zone to prevent the drive especially from the spitfirish Gary David.
Powerade Coach Bo Perasol’s players had made 17 trips to the free throw line where they canned 12 shots. Powerade’s plan was to attack the slow transition of Meralco and their older bigs like Asi Taulava and Marlou Aquino. To compound matters, forwards Nelbert Omolon and Gabby Espinas drifted in an out of focus.
But the plan backfired. Whether because the sudden space opened up the floor for Powerade’s outside gunners or the lack of commitment to the defensive plan, the Tigers’ Mark Macapagal and David immediately launched triples to devastating effect. The 11-point deficit had gone up to 16.
With Powerade pushing the ball upcourt as quick as they could, Meralco countered with a three-guard lineup of Chris Ross, Pong Escobal, and rookie Shawn Weinstein.
But it was the Tigers’ cat-quick Chico Lanete who answered the challenge by lofting a floater over the 6’9” Aquino and scoring on a layup for a 60-42 lead with 3:24 to play in the third.
The Bolts came no further than 11 as David continued to torch the Bolts from inside and out. The player dubbed “Mr. Pure Energy” scored eight points in the fourth quarter to help his side pull out a 81-66 win. David was the lone Tiger in double figures with 31 points that eclipsed the previous conference high of 27 held by several players including San Miguel Beer’s Arwind Santos, Dondon Hontiveros, and Jay Washington; Meralco’s Cardona; Talk ‘N Text’s Jimmy Alapag, and David himself who scored that number in a losing effort against Barangay Ginebra.
By the time the Bolts entered their dugout, Cardona had been brought to Medical City for tests. The loss was their fourth in six matches and a pall of gloom set hung on the players. A disconsolate Gregorio didn’t mince his words. “I am a sore loser.” he said. He called out the lack of consistency by Omolon, Gabby Espinas, and forward Beau Belga.
Addressing Espinas, Gregorio said that he thought that the former PCU Dolphin who was with his fifth PBA ballclub was a talented player who could be a star in the pro league. But his lack of consistency and bad habits kept him from reaching his true potential.
“Guys, I need you all to dig in deep.” asked the visibly irked head coach. “We still have a chance (Meralco has eight more matches to go) but you all have to dig in deep.”
Without Cardona’s 19.4 points (prior to the game against Powerade), digging deep is an understatement and more. Their next opponents are San Miguel and Alaska.
Powerade 81 – David 31, Lanete 9, Macapagal 9, Espino 7, Reyes Rob 6, Ritualo 6, Gonzales 5, Antonio 5, Rizada 3, Reyes Jai 0, Calimag 0, Laure 0, Mendoza 0
Meralco 66 – Escobal 17, Espinas 12, Menor 8, Weinstein 6, Ross 6, Daa 6, Taulava 5, Cardona 4, Aquino 2, Arao 0, Belga 0, Aljamal 0, Omolon 0
My notes: When Gregorio dressed down Espinas, it was for his blowing hot and cold. As for Belga, it was about his propensity for playing out of control and throwing cheap shots that do not help Meralco’s cause one bit. When the coaching staff entered the dugout after the game, all the players had taken of bits and pieces if not all their game clothing. Save for one. The only one in full uniform was Asi Taulava. The Fil-Tongan played 18 minutes and scored five points, pulled down four rebounds, had one block, and three turnovers. He was stewing about the loss. If anyone thinks that he’s no longer passionate about the game, then they have another thought coming. While the coaches were in their post-game huddle outside, it was Taulava who led the discussion among the players inside. The Bolts are actually a fascinating team to follow for many reasons some of which I stated in my opening paragraph. For sure, I’ll be writing about this team even more.