MANILA - The Meralco Bolts have plenty to work on after a tough 103-94 defeat to the TNT KaTropa in Game 1 of their semifinals series in the 2019 PBA Governors Cup on Sunday.
Back in action after a three-week layoff, the Bolts could not stop TNT's KJ McDaniels inside the paint, struggled to contain the KaTropa shooters, and eventually fell behind by 22 points before making an ill-fated comeback attempt in the fourth period.
Import Allen Durham, whose 16 fourth quarter points sparked their rally, admitted that the long break took its toll on the Bolts.
"You know, we (were) off for a while. I definitely felt the rust," he said. "In the first three quarters, our offense was bad, our defense was bad."
"Against this type of team, you can't start playing with six minutes left in the game, and expect to be okay," he added.
The Bolts cut down the deficit to 8 points with just over three minutes left, 93-85, but McDaniels doused their rally with four consecutive charities.
Durham hopes the loss was enough to shake off the rust from the Bolts.
"It needs to," he stressed. "I think we gotta figure out something better on defense, and then on offense, we gotta move with more rhythm, and if we do that, I think we'll be okay."
The import finished the game with 32 points and 21 rebounds, but was just one of three Meralco players in double-digits along with Chris Newsome (14) and Allein Maliksi (15). While the scoring distribution was less than ideal, Durham chalked it up to rust once more.
"On offense, (we) gotta play with more rhythm. I feel like we were passing the ball, and the ball would stick. Then we're passing, the ball would stick. So I think everybody's just gotta be in a better rhythm, and then we can play better," he said.
On the other end, the Bolts "gotta man up and just play better defense," especially after they were repeatedly burned by the Jayson Castro-KJ McDaniels tandem on pick-and-roll plays.
"If we can do that, I think we can get back in the series," said Durham.
Game 2 of the series is on Tuesday at the Araneta Coliseum.
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