PBA: Norman Black targeting better Philippine Cup finish for healthy Meralco Bolts
Santino Honasan on Jan 11, 2019 01:06 PM
"If we’re healthy, if we stay healthy, I expect a better finish." - Norman Black
Meralco Bolts head coach Norman Black isn't putting any lofty expecations for his team ahead of the start of the 44th PBA season.
For the veteran mentor, it's mainly about getting better.
"You always want to improve. Obviously, we’re not San Miguel, so it’s hard for us to say we’re going to win a championship," Black told ABS-CBN Sports. "We want to improve, we want to do better, we want everybody healthy. We’ve never gone into an All Filipino Conference healthy, we’ve always had somebody out.
"Last year Cliff was out, JD was out in the All Filipino, which hurt us a great deal. Hopefully, if we have a pretty healthy team, we’ll have a chance to do better than we’ve done in the past. It’s not that difficult for us to improve, since we were so low last year, I think we came in at eleventh place. We just want to do better and have a better finish."
As Black said, the Bolts did finish eleventh during the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup, ending the eliminations with a 4-7 record.
The key word is 'healthy', and for this season, Black is optimistic, as the Bolts are heading into the season-opening conference with a complete lineup.
"Well we’re healthy. Some of the key players are back already, Ranidel [De Ocampo] is back, [Jared Dillinger] is back, Cliff Hodge is back, so that’s going to help us an awful lot in the All Filipino."
Black adds that if they're able to preserve that bill of health for the rest of the season, he fully expects Meralco to be able to finsh better than eleventh, or even make a run in the playoffs.
"If we’re healthy, if we stay healthy, I expect a better finish. One of the things we’ve had going for us for the most part is that the imported conferences, particularly the third conference, we’re normally pretty healthy. We did have a few injuries last conference, but at the same time, for the most part, Cliff was able to play for a long stretch, and we ran off seven straight wins because of it, then he hurt his back against Phoenix, and he was out, and we saw what happened against Alaska."
"That’s one of the keys, Ranidel is great player, but he has to be on the court, Cliff is very good player, but he’s got to be out there on the court, so is JD, so we’ll do our best to pace them, try to keep them healthy, of course we can’t control injuries, they happen at any time, but we’re expecting a better finish, if those guys are healthy," Black maintained.