More than a week since entering the winners’ column in the 2017 PBA Commissioner’s Cup, Blackwater found itself crashing back to earth on Easter Sunday, no thanks to a fourth-quarter offensive shutdown that led to a 91-102 loss against formidable Meralco.
After scoring 80 points and taking an eight-point lead after the first 36 minutes of play, the Elite suddenly went cold in the stretch as groped for form against the Bolts’ rejuvenated defensive stance, limiting them to just 11 markers—the same output of Meralco big man Kelly Nabong alone in the fourth.
“It’s tough,” lamented Blackwater import Greg Smith as the injury-riddled Blackwater side failed to come up with a fitting follow-up to a 118-113 win over GlobalPort last April 8 and drop to a 1-5 mark overall.
The 6-foot-10 Smith held his ground against Meralco counterpart Alex Stepheson, finishing with 19 points and 14 rebounds on top of seven assists, three blocks and as many steals against five errors in nearly 43 tireless minutes of action.
But the former NBA veteran, along with his fellow Elite, couldn’t get his usual game going in the face of the Bolts’ renewed defensive intensity in the stretch.
“I think we just started to just chill and not aggressive like we were in the first three quarters. That kinda hurt us in the fourth,” he said.
Despite yet another sorry loss, the 26-year-old Smith is keeping himself in high sprits amid the Elite’s alarming struggles.
“We still got five more games left. I know that any day, any game, it can turn around. We can win five straight, or four of the last five. Anything can still happen,” he said.
“There’s no reason to look back at these first six games thinking we’re done and we’re not good enough. Now it’s time to get back to practice on Tuesday, learn to fight more and start to prepare for the next games for us to win.”
Smith added: “I’m confident. Even if we lose 10 games in a row, I will be stay confident. That’s who I am. On Tuesday, I’m gonna bring that mindset and play hard to let the guys know that we should start winning regardless of who will face.”
Even Blackwater coach Leo Isaac is staying confident, shared Smith.
“Basically, we gotta keep fighting. Continue to fight, continue to fight because you never know when it’s gonna be out turn to come up with a winning streak,” he said, summing up Isaac’s post-game pep talk.
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