AFTER a stirring 2-0 start, the Meralco Bolts brace themselves for a first major test versus the TNT KaTropa and import Louis Amundson in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Friday.
A UNLV product, the 6-foot-9 Amundson showed his wares in the NBA from 2006 to 2016, playing first for the Utah Jazz then with the Philadelphia 76ers, the Phoenix Suns, the Golden State Warriors, the Indiana Pacers, the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Chicago Bulls, the New Orleans Pelicans, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the New York Knicks.
“TNT is a real tough team,” said Meralco coach Norman Black, hoping his team would be able to sustain their solid effort in their first two games to have a chance against the Texters.
The Ka Tropa dismantled the Bolts, 105-91, in the last Philippine Cup.
In their Commissioner’s Cup rematch, the Bolts will also have to deal with the TNT import that they’re not familiar with.
A replacement to Denzel Bowles, Amundson came in with sterling credentials including a 10-year stint in the NBA.
He has NBA career averages of 3.7 points and 3.6 rebounds, and among his career highlights was a 17-rebound performance last year against the San Antonio Spurs.
“Our defense has got to be strong, and we have to sustain a good team effort,” said Black.
The Bolts and import Alex Stepheson were pretty solid in their first two games, first drubbing the Mahindra Floodbuster, 94-86, then clobbering the NLEX Road Warriors, 91-84.
Stepheson dished out an even better performance in his second game in the local pro league, following up a 21-rebound, 11-point PBA debut with 18 markers and 20 boards.
But Black put a lot of credit on team effort and defense.
“It’s a second straight game we held our opponents to less than 90 points. Our defense really stepped up,” said Black.
“Our locals stepped up a lot. They did well a lot better than in the all-Filipino tourney. Overall, we put in a good team effort. We just have to continue to do that,” Black also said.