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Bolts eye next step next tourney
Meralco Bolts coach Norman Black
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Bolts eye next step next tourney

(The Philippine Star) - November 30, 2020 - 12:00am

SMART CLARK GIGA CITY , Philippines — After their breakthrough semifinal run in the bubble, Meralco Bolts coach Norman Black looks to power up the squad as it pushes harder in the next battle for the PBA’s crown jewel.

“Experience is the best teacher and you can’t run until you walk so I’d say we walked this conference. Hopefully we’ll be able to run a little bit faster next conference and improve the team so we could take the next step,” said Black.

With what Black described as his “best All-Filipino crew” since taking the Meralco helm, the Bolts ended a long playoffs drought and even came tantalizingly close to making it to the Last Dance.

They upended five-peat champ and twice-to-beat San Miguel in the quarterfinals en route to their first semifinal appearance in five years. Then they fiercely fought the Gin Kings in the semis but yielded the rubber match on Scottie Thompson’s triple, 80-83.

“We’ve never experienced this in the last five years so to go this far (semis), get that close to the finals, it’s a good experience and also something the team can build on for the future,” said Black.

“Just have to add a few more pieces to make us stronger as far as depth is concerned,” he added.

He looks forward to utilizing big man Noy Baclao, their mid-season acquisition who was injured when they left for the bubble, and tabbing a quality rookie from the draft.

“The one person we missed in this trip was Noy Baclao. Had we known there would be changes in rules (on personnel entering the bubble late), we could have included him in the roster,” said Black.

“He’s been OK for about a month now but we couldn’t bring him over anymore. He would have helped a great deal being able to guard Japeth (Aguilar) and (Prince) Caperal and he’s a very intelligent player defensively. So I’m looking forward to his addition,” he added.

Black will also turn to the pool of rookie aspirants for reinforcement.

“Looks like the pool is going to be deep this year. Hopefully we’ll get a very good player,” said the veteran tactician, whose team, however, may pick up ninth owing to their Last-4 finish in the bubble.

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