Norman Black confident of Meralco's chances vs Ginebra

Published April 2, 2022, 4:09 AM

by Jonas Terrado

Photo from PBA

Meralco coach Norman Black believes his team has the capabilities to finally beat Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in their fourth encounter for the PBA Governors’ Cup crown.

Black and the Bolts arranged another title showdown with the Gin Kings following their semifinal series triumph over the Magnolia Pambansang Manok Hotshots, but will come in having lost their previous three meetings in the PBA’s ultimate stage.

But Black didn’t mince words when asked if Meralco can finally pull one out against Ginebra.

“I like my chances this time around,” Black said Friday, April 1 after Meralco took the deciding fifth game with a 94-81 victory at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Winning the championship at Ginebra’s expense has eluded Meralco since the 2016 edition of the Governors’ Cup when it lost the finals in six games, ending with a buzzer-beating triple by Justin Brownlee.

The Bolts fell short the following year, losing Game 7 before 54.000 fans at the Philippine Arena. They met again for the Governors’ Cup crown in 2019, but an injury sustained by Raymond Almazan opened the door for the Gin Kings to reign supreme once more, this time in five games.

Meralco was also defeated by Ginebra in a do-or-die fifth game of the 2020 Philippine Cup semifinals after Scottie Thompson won it on a corner three in the dying seconds.

Black also has frustrations in terms of his personal coaching battle with Ginebra’s Tim Cone in the finals.

He is 0-5 all-time against Cone in the finals, the other two when San Miguel Beer was defeated by Alaska in the 1995 Governors’ Cup and in the 2014 Commissioner’s Cup with TNT being defeated by eventual Grand Slam winner San Mig Super Coffee.

“I’ve never beaten Tim before, so maybe this would be the right time to get it done,” said Black. “We’ve been meeting a lot lately, and he’s been on the winning end every time.”

Meralco has been making numerous changes in past conferences, recently with Chris Banchero joining forces with Chris Newsome, Aaron Black, Almazan and Allein Maliksi.

But Banchero missed Game 5 due to an injury, and Black sees him as a barometer if Meralco can finally get over the hump.

“I just hope I can get CB (Banchero) back,” he said. “If he comes back, then I think my chances are pretty good.”

Getting import Tony Bishop in the groove, particularly on the offensive end, will be key in cancelling out the matchup with Brownlee.

Bishop has had his struggles not only in the playoffs. but also late in the eliminations, but playing at least at par with expectations will bode well for the Bolts.

The seven-game title series begins Wednesday, April 6 at the Big Dome before the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City plays host to Game 2 and 3 on April 8 and 10.

Game 4 is set April 13 at the Big Dome while the rest of the games, if needed, will be determined at a later date.