Meralco Bolts one of two teams to practice first in PBA bubble

With a day of 5-on-5 practices finally under their belt, Meralco Bolts head coach Norman Black can heave a sigh of relief heading to the resumption of the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup almost two weeks from now.

The team was informed late Wednesday evening that everybody tested negative for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, paving the way for a light practice session on Thursday afternoon.

"Our focus today was basically, we did a lot of 5-on-5 as we tried to execute our secondary break and halfcourt offense," Black recalled to ESPN5 in a phone interview.

Meralco, along with Magnolia, were the first pair of teams to practice at the Angeles University Foundation Gym, having been allotted the 1 p.m. slot.

Magnolia practiced at the main court upstairs, while the Bolts utilized the makeshift court in the lower level of the multi-story building.

"It was nice to see the guys running up and down the court once more. It's been a long time since we've practiced, and we only have basically have 10 days of practice before starting the season," said the veteran mentor.

Rust from the six-month layoff was not visible in the limited practice, but Black said he will know more about conditioning in the Friday session.

Meralco's whole lineup submitted last March to the league will be inside the bubble, including Raymond Almazan. However, newly-signed free agent Noy Baclao will not be, as he continues to recuperate from a knee injury.

"The doctors recommended that he still be given more time to recover," Black explained.

Almazan, who is still in Manila, will finish his therapy on Friday, and will proceed to Clark right after, according to Black.

Despite having only at least 10 days to prepare for the resumption of the All-Filipino on Oct. 11, Black does not see the short amount of time as an issue for preparations, since all teams will go through the same issues.

"So, I think the most important thing is to have a positive attitude, and you go out and work as hard as you can between now and the 11th of October to prepare your team," added Black.

The 62-year-old also praised the PBA's protocol instituted at Quest Hotel, their residence until December, for all bubble residents have been following the rules.

"Everything was very well-organized and so far, so good, everything has been running pretty smoothly," mentioned Black.