10 November 2014

Dismal Game Exposes Bolts Failure to Adjust

Bolts' Nightmare
They may have put the humiliating 41-point loss to the Alaska Aces behind them by winning their next match against sister-team NLEX Road Warriors, but it does not mean that the problems confronting the Meralco Bolts is far from over.

Sporting a 2-0 record going against the Aces, Meralco had a chance to show the basketball world that they can defy the odds and defeat a noteworthy opponent. Alas, what was supposed to be a showdown turned out to be a meltdown. The beating they received showed everyone that the high expectation on this team is just that ... an expectation.

Now that they have a 3-1 win-loss record, still do not prove that the Bolts will win any title any time soon. They won against less powerful teams, Barako Energy Drink, Blackwater Elite and NLEX, but failed to topple a big team like the Aces.

It will be safe to say that they will probably get beaten again when they meet their other sister team, Talk ‘N Text, in their next match on 11 November. Since debuting as a team in 2010, the Bolts has only beaten the Texters once. Is this a case of sacrificing for the greater team? It is not certain, but it looks like it.

In any case, the game against the Aces may not have gone as expected, but it did go as planned. Not that the Bolts planned to lose; they just obviously did not plan to win. Not like the Aces did.

Losing a game is one thing. It happens – a few breaks for the other team, “a few mistakes by your team ... you come out the loser and it's easy to make adjustments for a win next game.” Being out-matched and out-coached? Well, that is another thing entirely.

You need to do some soul-searching and figure out not just why you couldn't execute, but why you weren't ready to execute in conditions and scenarios you knew were likely and you know you can handle.

It was apparent that the Aces did a good job. They played well and they played better than the Bolts. Coach Norman Black kept a 2-3 zone and the Aces just killed their defense with timely passes and accurate jumpers. Despite the effective sniping of their opponents, the Bolts did not make any adjustments and when they did, it was too late.

Yes, a 41-point deficit would indicate that the Bolts failed to adjust and adopt.

The question is why weren't the Bolts the ones playing a whole lot better than the Aces? Everyone know all too well what the Jayvee Casio, Dondon Hontiveros and Cyrus Baguio are capable of doing when their guards sag behind to keep the zone effective.

The game is played for 48 minutes to allow teams to get the rhythm and adjust their chess pieces. Except this time, the Bolts kept on with their ineffective zone for most of the game and failed to avoid a drastic meltdown.

The Bolts have the strong guys, the tough guys, the guys who aren't going to let mental mistakes ruin the game. The starters are complete and are programmed to play scrappy defense. The team has John Wilson and Gary David, who can shoot far from long distance. And the team had coach Black who was tasked to keep them focused on one goal and prepared to handle whatever happens in order to win a crown.

There should have been no surprises in the game against the Aces. This isn't a sister team whom the Bolts owe some favors. This is the Aces, who are at the top of the standings right now and has been beaten by the Bolts several times already.

The team that showed up on 31 October looked like the one who either underestimated an opponent with overconfidence, or the one who thought that athleticism and low IQ are enough to win against an experienced and battle-scarred team.

Whatever the reason, it was a rather pathetic showing from coaches on down to players. Everyone knows it, even if they don’t admit it.

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