By Jan Carlo Anolin
The Meralco Bolts have vowed to come back stronger and recharged for the All-Filipino Conference after a heartbreaking ending in the PBA Governors’ Cup.
“Even though we didn’t get the results we wanted, obviously we take those lessons and continue to move forward,” Meralco forward Chris Newsome told reporters after Game 5 Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Newsome is aiming for a playoff picture in the All-Filipino Cup since Meralco has yet to make an appearance since the 2012-2013 season where they reached the quarterfinals but succumbed to Alaska 2-0.
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel completed a Finals 3-0 record against Meralco in the season-ending conference after a title-clinching 105-93 win.
With another defeat, the Bolts have one thing in mind and that is to focus on the next PBA season.
The Meralco franchise debuted in the PBA in 2010.
The former Ateneo Blue Eagle said he would rather focus on the next season than eyeing revenge and setting up a Part 4 duel against Ginebra in the Governors’ Cup.
“Honestly, that’s three conferences away so that’s kind of way down the line,” Newsome said, who finished with 13 points, five rebounds, five assists and a steal.
“The only thing I can really focus on is what’s coming up next and for us that’s All-Filipino.”
The same thing goes for 31-year-old forward Cliff Hodge, who will enter his eighth-year in the PBA next season.
With plenty of years left in the league, Hodge said his main goal is to get the championship someday.
“Losing the finals, that just makes you more motivated. It makes you have more desire to even get better,” Hodge, who has been with the Bolts since 2012, told the Manila Bulletin.
“You’re almost there but you’re not there so we’re just gonna work hard and win the championship eventually,” the 6-foot-4 forward said.
Hodge had 10 points, seven boards, a steal and assist in Game 5.
For point guard Baser Amer, a change in mindset might help the Bolts when they start their campaign next season.
“Sayang talaga.” Amer said, who posted 17 points, four rebounds and three assists. “Hopefully next conference, makasanayan namin na kandado kami lagi sa Finals.”
A product of the San Beda Red Lions, the 27-year-old guard was acquired by Meralco in 2015 and was drafted 7th overall.
The Bolts, however, have to wait for the recovery of spark plug center Raymond Almazan for them to be in full force.
The 6-foot-8 Meralco center is set to undergo operation after sustaining a lateral meniscal tear on his left knee in Game 3 and will rest for six weeks.