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Meralco makes quick PBA return after FIBA Asia CC stint, battles Blackwater

The Bolts will quickly swing back to PBA action following its FIBA Asia Champions Cup stint. FIBA (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Just three days off its stint in the FIBA Asia Champions Cup in Nonthaburi, Thailand, Meralco makes a quick return to the PBA Governors' Cup.

The Bolts will take on the Blackwater Elite on Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City at 4:30 p.m.

Meralco, runner-up in the past two editions, had a poor start to its campaign in the league's season-ending tournament, only winning once in its first four assignments prior to its trip to Thailand.

The team, which will enjoy the presence of Cliff Hodge and Chris Newsome again after the two were barred from playing in the FIBA Asia Champions Cup due to eligibility concerns, looks to use the lessons it got from playing against Asian club basketball powerhouses like Al-Riyadi, Seoul SK, and eventual tournament champ Petrochimi when it takes on a surprisingly hot Blackwater squad.

The Elite, however, saw their 4-0 start snapped in a bad manner after falling to the NLEX Road Warriors in their last game.

But Blackwater can take advantage of a weary Meralco squad that played five games in six days and only has two days off.

The Elite can force a three-way tie with Barangay Ginebra and the Magnolia Hotshots in first place at 5-1, but the Barangay will surely break out of the logjam as they will face the Road Warriors in the main game at 7 p.m.

Ginebra actually has a chance to go back in solo first place with a win, but a loss will find the squad in another three-way deadlock, this time with NLEX and Phoenix at 5-2, good for joint fourth.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno