MANILA, Philippines—Meralco head coach Norman Black made no effort to hide his displeasure over how the Bolts played in Game 4 of the 2019 PBA Governors' Cup finals on Wednesday, a contest that saw them get crushed by Barangay Ginebra, 94-72.
After forcing a 14-all deadlock at the end of the opening frame, the Bolts were outplayed the rest of the way. Justin Brownlee scored 15 points in the second quarter, just two points fewer than Meralco did as a team. Ginebra finished the game shooting nearly 47%, and they limited the Bolts to just 37% from the field.
"With the effort we displayed tonight, we didn't deserve to win this game," a stone-faced Black said afterward. "I thought Ginebra out-hustled us, out-played us."
"I'm a little bit embarrassed with the way the team played and the effort we gave," he admitted. "And for me, it's an embarrassment to the PBA that we came out and didn't give them a better fight."
After being one of the league's top defensive units all throughout the elimination round, the Bolts' defense fell apart against the Gin Kings in Game 4. They struggled to keep up as Ginebra swung the ball around, and they repeatedly got beat in transition.
A frustrated Black noted that the Gin Kings "did did pretty much everything they wanted to do" in Game 4, as exemplified by Aljon Mariano's alley-oop to Scottie Thompson with seven minutes left, which gave Ginebra a 79-63 lead.
"As a basketball coach, I'm a little bit embarrassed by it, to be honest with you," Black said again.
The hustle stats, added Black, told the story of the ball game — deflections, recoveries of loose balls, charges drawn. Once again, the Bolts got beat "very, very badly," said Black, in those categories.
"We just have to do a much better job to represent the company and represent the league," he said.
With the result, Meralco is now down 3-1 in the best-of-7 series; another loss will send them crashing to a third finals defeat against Ginebra in four seasons.
For Black, his players just have two choices.
"Either we pull together and come back and fight on Friday, or we may be in for the same," he said.
"We just have to figure out a way to bounce back from this and come out and play better basketball on Friday, 'cause for me this is embarrassing tonight."
A lot of it will simply boil down to effort. Black stressed that the major adjustment for Meralco will be to "play harder."
"It's hard to focus on pick-and-roll defense and post defense when you just can't get back on defense," he said.
"It's something we have not struggled with this entire conference, but we're struggling with it right now in the last couple of games. We just have to do a better job on transition defense, half-court defense.
"I just wanna see more effort."
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.