PBA preview: Meralco Bolts
MANILA, Philippines - A new Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) season kicks off on Sunday, November 17. Anticipation is high especially with the influx of young talent that came via the PBA draft.
Who are the teams and players to watch out for? Rappler gives you a preview of each team and how we expect them to fare in the All-Filipino Conference.
Philippine Cup recap
Meralco, with an 8-6 card, grabbed the 4th seed at the end of the elimination round. But the Alaska Aces swept them in the quarterfinals, 2-0, to end their 2012-2013 run.
Head coach: Ryan Gregorio
Assistants: Ronnie Magsanoc, Boyet Fernandez, Patrick Fran, Xavier Nunag, Jong Uichico
In a series of deals, Meralco landed one key player after another in trying to complete their roster. The biggest acquisition is scoring champion Gary David, who can provide them around 20 points per night. Kerby Raymundo is reunited with his coach when he was still playing for the Purefoods franchise. A revitalized Raymundo should give Meralco toughness and experience. Meralco will banner a roster with rich championship experience, and they will all be mentored by Ryan Gregorio - a three-time coach of the year.
Will we see Meralco's veterans in their best form? Raymundo, Hugnatan, Allado, and Cortez were excellent during their prime, but it seems father time has caught up with them.
Also, Meralco's top three scorers last Philippine Cup – Sol Mercado, Mac Cardona, and Ronjay Buenafe – are gone and the Bolts have to find replacements. David will be relied on for scoring, but he has to be consistent. Remember his slump with Gilas Pilipinas? David must regain his touch because it would be a problem if his offensive production unpredictable.
Jared Dillinger provides hustle on the defensive end and he is also a capable scorer. His size and versatility makes him a threat at the wings and Meralco will need his energy on the floor.
Will Cliff Hodge emerge as Meralco's star?
The energetic sophomore averaged 10.6 PPG and 7.4 RPG in the last Philippine Cup, and ended up third in the Rookie of the Year race last season. He also added a 3-point shot to his arsenal during the Governors' Cup. At 25 years old, it seems Hodge is on his way to becoming the face of the Meralco franchise.
Philippine Cup forecast
The Bolts have been improving since they entered the PBA but they've never made it past the semifinals. The retooled unit could place among the top 6 teams this season but from there it will be a tough ride. - Rappler.com
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