IT SEEMS that there is little anybody could do to stop Meralco's hot streak in the PBA Governors' Cup.
The addition of some vital pieces has surely made the Bolts look like legitimate contenders, much stronger than the ones who finished back-to-back runners-up to Barangay Ginebra from 2016.
But NorthPort has its own agenda and aims to implement its gameplan to the fullest in its collision with Meralco at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday at the Ynares center in Antipolo.
Unlike the Bolts, whose ongoing four-game streak pushed them safely through to the eight-team quarterfinals, the Batang Pier are hard-pressed to punch their own ticket to the next round.
A win, however, will not only bounce the Mikee Romero-owned franchise back from a stinging loss its last time out but also tremendously boost its chances of getting past the eliminations.
Besides, there is this matter of NorthPort's 99-106 loss to Alaska last Sunday.
That defeat kept NorthPort at eighth, just behind 4-6 Columbian but only half-a-game ahead of Alaska. Also, that seven-point differential plus the Dyip's 114-08 win over NorthPort earlier, would play a big factor should all three teams wound up tied.
Clearly, a win would dispel much of NorthPort's concern but how to do that against Meralco is another big problem.
Against the Aces only Christian Standhardinger and Michael Qualls mostly carried the fight by combining for 72 of the Batang Pier's points.
"We gotta do a better job moving the ball, getting the other guys shots," Standhardinger, who had a career-high 37 points on top of 16 rebounds and five assists, said after the Alaska game.
"You know there's a lot of great basketball players, great shooters so it's very, very important for us as a team that everybody gets enough shots up and then makes them or just get them up to be a threat," added the sophomore pro.
The absence of Robert Bolick, sidelined by a torn right ACL, is a big factor, admitted Standhardinger, but he also stressed the other remaining guards must step up.
"I think that's what we need to work on," stated the Fil-German.
For sure, it's a must against Meralco.
The Bolts have their own sidelined player in Baser Amer (strained groin), but that still did not stop them from stretching their streak with a masterful 92-74 win over Columbian only last Friday.
Allen Durham and Raymond Almazan played key roles in that win with the former notching 34 points, 14 rebounds and five assists and the gangly center finishing with a career-high 24 rebounds on top of 18 points.
"Allen did a good job for us scoring in the paint and Raymond did a good job controlling the rebounds. And that was really the key to the game tonight," said Bolts coach Norman Black.
"We did a good job, defensively, we were able to slow them down because they are really a high-scoring team and we scored enough points to win the game."
Now Black's apparent main concern is how his charges could refresh and do a quick turnaround. "We have to find ways to keep our guys fresh and get them ready for the NorthPort game on Sunday," he said. (NC)