IN the same conference last season, Meralco was able to barge its way to the championship round, proving itself that it has come along as one of the teams to reckon with in the PBA.
This time, the Bolts are making another run and solidified their chances further with the acquisition of six-time champion and two-time Finals Most Valuable Player Ranidel de Ocampo.
Coaches Alex Compton of Alaska, Caloy Garcia of Rain or Shine and Yeng Guiao of NLEX believe that the Bolts had put themselves in a better position for another championship aspirations following the acquisition of the 6-foot-7, former Gilas Pilipinas standout.
“Meralco. They’re tough and Allen Durham is a great import. They are already a scary team and even scarier now with the addition of Ranidel de Ocampo. Too bad for us we’re playing them in our next game. I think we have to be better than the last three games we played, if we want to compete against Meralco,” said Mr. Compton.
“From the looks of it, I think Coach Norman (Black) has a great plan. They’re playing as a team, they’re moving the ball, they’re defending well.”
For Mr. Garcia, whose team has been involved in trades with Meralco in the past, he believes this is the best trade ever made by the Bolts.
“I think they’re playing even better this year. What more with the inclusion of Ranidel? I think coach Norman is right in adding De Ocampo because that’s what the missing piece of the squad, a stretch four player. Ranidel will bring in a lot of championship experience, which will be crucial in making a championship run,” added Mr. Garcia.
For Mr. Guiao, the wisdom of a veteran player like Mr. De Ocampo would be essential to any team making a finals push.
“I think the combination of veteran players and up and coming stars is the right formula. We’ve proven that when we acquired veteran players like JR Quiñahan, Cyrus Baguio, Larry Fonacier and Alex Mallari. With Ranidel, I think Meralco has become a lot better. They have a solid import in (Allen) Durham, who has become the yardstick among the imports. Baser Amer has been playing consistently and the rest of the team has been good defensively. I think they’re going at the right direction,” added Mr. Guiao.
At 7-2, the Bolts are just half a game behind joint leaders, NLEX and Barangay Ginebra, in the team standings and are in comfortable position in securing one of the top four berths that bear a twice-to-beat advantage. — Rey Joble