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Nov 29, 2019

Defense key for Bolts in semis duel with KaTropa

Meralco coach Norman Black emphasized the importance of being on-point defensively as the second-seeded Bolts face offensive juggernaut TNT KaTropa in the PBA Governors' Cup semis.

"It will be a huge challenge being matched up against the top offensive team in the conference," said Black after getting the No. 3 KaTropa as their opponent in best-of-five duel beginning Dec. 13.

TNT cards a league-best 109.58 points per game on a 39 percent three-point shooting and 49 percent field goal accuracy overall and normally makes 15.67 markers in transition plays.

"Our transition and perimeter defense will have to be at its best as we try to slow down the high scoring TNT team," noted Black.

Meralco is a major offensive threat as well, averaging 102 points a game with a 46 percent field goal markmanship and 35 percent from the deep, so TNT will also have its work cut out on D.

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The Meralco-TNT showdown will pit the KaTropa's explosive import KJ McDaniels against the Bolts' dependable Allen Durham.

McDaniels is the league's top gunner, averaging 37.09 markers, while also doing his share in other aspects with 7.88 boards, 4.7 feeds and one block.

Durham, as always, is showing fine form for Meralco, delivering 29.64 points, 14.64 rebounds, 6.27 assists and 1 block an outing.

With Durham in the fold, the Bolts have transformed themselves into a serious contender after struggling in the first two conferences. Locals Raymond Almazan, Baser Amer, Chris Newsome, and Bong Quinto have blended well with Durham as Meralco won eight of its 11 assignments in the elims for the No. 2 seeding in the quarters then clinched its semis seat with a 94-84 drubbing of No. 7 Alaska.

"While it will be tough, we will just go out and play our game to win as we have the whole conference," said Black, who's looking to steer the team to the finals for the third time.

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The semis won't start until after the Southeast Asian Games so managing the players' shape is crucial in the next two weeks.

"Keeping our guys in good condition and healthy during the two-week break will be very important," said Black. (OL)