The Meralco Bolts are coming off a heart-pounding series against the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, and now they are about to face another traditional PBA power in the form of the San Miguel Beermen. Who draws first blood in this semifinals matchup?
Catch this game live on Wednesday, August 3 at 6 pm, Manila time.
Meralco Bolts (0-0)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Aaron Black
- SG: Chris Newsome
- SF: Allein Maliksi
- PF: Cliff Hodge
- C: Raymond Almazan
Meralco is on a high after finally exorcising its playoffs demons against the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, sending the Barangay packing early for vacation with a series win in the quarterfinal round. The Bolts eliminated Ginebra with a 106-104 overtime victory on Sunday. Chris Newsome and Aaron Black powered Meralco in that game, as they scored 21 and 17 points, respectively. It appears that the Bolts are at their best when those two are taking over, with Black completely running away with the role of the lead point guard.
Black has repeatedly hushed his doubters with one excellent performance after another. He enters the semis battle against San Miguel having averaged nearly 16.0 points in his last six games. When the Bolts beat San Miguel in the elimination round, 89-86, Meralco got 15 points from Black and 16 points from Newsome, while Allein Maliksi paced the team with 18 points. San Miguel can’t also sleep on the Bolts’ defense which held the Beermen to just 86 points and 105.4 defensive rating – both way below the team’s conference averages.
San Miguel Beermen (0-0)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Chris Ross
- SG: CJ Perez
- SF: Marcio Lassiter
- PF: Rodney Brondial
- C: June Mar Fajardo
San Miguel has an axe to grind with the Bolts as Meralco was the last team to beat the Beermen. The Beermen were on a six-game win streak until they got tripped up by Black and company on July 27, though, San Miguel easily recovered from that by walloping the Blackwater Elite in the quarterfinals with a thunderous 123-93 victory. That gives San Miguel a record of 7-1 in its last eight outings. As usual, Junemar Fajardo will be the biggest thorn in the side of Meralco.
Although San Miguel lost earlier to the Bolts, that was not without Fajardo muscling his way through for 21 points and 12 rebounds, while shooting 9/12 from the field. San Miguel also did not have Chris Ross at that time due to injury, but the veteran guard is expected to play this Wednesday. Ross will give San Miguel a tremendous boost defensively and a solid weapon on that end of the floor against the likes of Black and Newsome. His presence should also help San Miguel’s potent offense to be even more combustible, as evidenced by the 12 assists he dished out in the win over Blackwater.
Spread: San Miguel (-2) covers.
Over/Under: Taking the Under (186.0) for this game.