Bolts, Fuel Masters dispute last semis berth

Ralph Edwin Villanueva - Philstar.com
Bolts, Fuel Masters dispute last semis berth
Meralco's Shonn Miller (2) will try and lead the Bolts to the semifinals.
PBA Images

MANILA, Philippines -- “We deserve to be there, too.”

The Meralco Bolts are looking to complete the semifinals picture in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup, as they face the Phoenix Fuel Masters Sunday night.

The two teams will battle it out in a sudden death matchup at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

Meralco earlier came back from 15 points down and needed three overtimes to force a rubber match against Phoenix, 116-107, on Wednesday.

“I have a lot of respect for the Phoenix team. If you see them, the way they play, they defeated a lot of teams. They upset a lot of teams. And, you look at them, they reached second place for a reason,” Meralco head coach Luigi Trillo told reporters after the win.

“For me, just looking at it, we have an opportunity here to get to the semis, and we deserve to be there, too. So, I know for me it’s not gonna be easy. We will go back to the drawing board, discuss this with the staff and get these guys ready,” he added.

Despite being one of the top teams early in the conference, Meralco missed out on the twice-to-beat advantage as they fell to fifth place.

But the team’s huge win over Phoenix gave them a window of opportunity to extend their season and complete the semifinal cast that is already made up of San Miguel, Barangay Ginebra, and the top-seeded Magnolia.

Whoever wins Sunday’s match will face the Hotshots.

“You can say that Coach Jamike [Jarin, Phoenix head coach] is good. They have a lot of materials. So, for us, everytime we face them, you have to give them respect,” Trillo said.

“We were a bit overzealous at the start [of Game 1] but eventually we settled in. And you have to make these guys play. They are playing inside the court. It’s gonna come down again to that, aggressive teams are gonna win,” he added.

Ahead of Sunday’s game, the status of one of the Bolts’ main guns, Cliff Hodge, is still questionable.

Hodge had an injury when he rolled his ankle in the first overtime against Phoenix.

He did not return to the game.

“We have to be ready. With or without Cliff Hodge, it’s gonna be a hard game. We’re ready,” the head coach reiterated.

“It’s quality basketball, I think we being two good teams, we’re gonna duke it out. If Cliff can’t go, we have other guys. We’re ready.”

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