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HomeSportBolts survive Bolick’s career night for first blood

Bolts survive Bolick’s career night for first blood

Robert Bolick will be leading NLEX Road Warriors against Meralco Bolts in the PBA quarterfinals. –PBA IMAGES

Robert Bolick will be leading NLEX Road Warriors against Meralco Bolts in the PBA quarterfinals. –PBA IMAGES

Meralco sneaked one over NLEX despite allowing Best Player of the Conference frontrunner Robert Bolick to score a career-high 48 points Friday, moving one win from advancing to the semifinals of the PBA Philippine Cup.

But coach Luigi Trillo pointed out following a 107-103 victory in the opener of their best-of-three quarterfinal series at Smart Araneta Coliseum that there’s plenty of things to be addressed in order to finish out the Road Warriors, primarily making sure that Bolick can be held in check.

“It takes five guys playing defense on him. That’s Robert Bolick for you,” Trillo said. “As a team, we’re not pleased with the way we played, and we know Game 2 is gonna be harder when a team has their backs against the wall.

“We’re capable of closing it out, but we really respect Robert Bolick. And we have a lot of things to fix,” added Trillo going into the series’ second game Sunday at Rizal Memorial Coliseum.

Bolick showed why he maintained his lead in the race for the conference’s only individual honor, starting off with a 20-point first quarter that helped catapult NLEX to a 54-44 halftime lead.

It took some key adjustments, collectively, from the Bolts to eventually prevent Bolick from saving the Road Warriors.

“When you’re facing Robert, you have to be on your toes. You have to be sharper,” said Allein Maliksi.

Aside from being one of the guys tasked to defend Bolick, Maliksi came through with 22 points off the bench and four free throws in the final 45 seconds, including a pair that put Meralco in front for good, 94-93, which countered Bolick’s basket on the previous play.

Crucial turnover

Meralco succeeded in keeping Bolick away from setting up for a basket in the next two NLEX possessions, the last resulting in a turnover when Cliff Hodge forced Bolick to hand off at the left elbow to rookie Richie Rodger.

Rodger couldn’t get a grip of the ball, resulting in an out-of-bounds situation and possession for Meralco with 13 seconds to go.

“Robert’s advantage is when you give him the ball, he’s able to get angles, so it’s a very hard matchup. He can hit the three, but once he gets the ball downhill, he’s able to pivot, sneak and get a layup,” said Trillo.

“What’s hard with him is that he’s a good passer, so you know for a fact he scored 48. And I’m sure in Game 2, he’s gonna be in attack mode. He’s gonna find guys and we have to be better all-around. It’s not just one guy being Robert, it’s [also] the four guys on the floor and it’s gonna be hard. And that’s why he’s special.”

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Bolick made 12 of 25 shots, including six triples, while adding four rebounds and five assists on the same day the league announced his lead in the BPC race with 44.5 Statistical Points, ahead of Terrafirma rookie Stephen Holt (41.5) and San Miguel Beer’s June Mar Fajardo (41.0). Another loss in the series likely ends Bolick’s chances of copping that award. But knowing Bolick, helping NLEX survive is the most important thing for him.

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