Meralco continued its amazing run in the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup playoffs on Sunday with a win to open their semifinals series against Alaska.
But coach Norman Black has a simple reminder to the Bolts heading into Game 2: play defense.
The Bolts have been a revelation the past few weeks after punching their seventh straight win-including the 97-92 win to draw first blood versus the Aces.
"We just know we just have to keep winning. We know it's been done before when Ginebra came back from the dead and reached the finals and won the championship. So for us we just try to fight every day, and we don't want to put too much pressure on players but we just come out and play hard and play defense to give ourselves a chance," said Black.
The Bolts are eyeing a commanding 2-0 bulge in their best-of-five semis series on Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Black took note of the fact that import Allen Durham has been doing much of the lifting for the Bolts who revived their title campaign following a 1-6 start this conference.
"I keep saying he's really the catalyst in everything we do. He gives us that strong foundation in the middle, and build off him," he said. "With a good import, the locals will follow and they will support you."
The 30-year-old Durham had another scintillating effort in Game 1 after recording 32 points, 14 rebounds and six assists.
Chris Newsome added 16 markers, including two three-pointers that doused water on Alaska's late-game uprising.
"The hardest thing for coaches is get players to play consistent. Sometimes they play good, sometimes they don't, but it's really a blessing to have one guy whose gonna be there and be the foundation for everything," Black added.
Alaska, though, is expected to come out with a much better effort come Game 2 after getting an earful from the usually mild-mannered coach Alex Compton during halftime of the series-opening game.
The Aces fell by as many as 16 points and played catchup in Game 1 as the well-rested squad seemed lethargic compared to the Bolts.
Chris Banchero is a game-time decision after playing through a sprained ankle in Game 1. The injury did not prevent Banchero from firing 16 points, while adding four boards and the same assists.
"It's up to coach but I hope to play big minutes," said Banchero. "It's a huge game, it really is. We can't go down 2-0 against a team like Meralco, that's going to be a problem."
Import Mike Harris carried the fight for Alaska in Game 1 with 37 points and 18 rebounds.