Currently in hot pursuit for its third straight trip to the finals of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Governor’s Cup, Meralco has been tapped to represent the country in the FIBA Asia Champions Cup.
Head coach Norman Black confirmed this development following the PBA board of governors’ annual planning session in Las Vegas on Sunday.
“Yes, we’ll go,” admitted Black, who will be leaning on his intact core led by two-time reigning Best Import Allen Durham in the prestigious inter-club meet set from 27 September to 2 Oct
The battle will not be a cakewalk.
Reigning champion Sporting Al Riyadi Beirut of Lebanon and Chinese Basketball Association heavyweight Liaoning Flying Leopards are tipped to dominate as well as Seoul SK Knights of South Korea and Petrochimi Bandar Imam BC of Iran.
Also in the fold are Alvark Tokyo of Japan, Pauian of Chinese Taipei and Mono Vampire of Thailand, which improved tremendously following its stint in the Asean Basketball League.
“I have no idea what to expect,” said Black, the grand slam-winning mentor who also coached San Miguel Beer in the Hiroshima Asian Games in 1994.
“I know that we’re going up against some of the top clubs teams in Asia so obviously, it’s going to be very, very difficult in the tournament.”
Still, Black vows to put up a good fight as they march with top locals Chris Newsome, Cliff Hodge and Baser Amer.
“We’re just going to do our best and represent the country,” he said, adding that they are planning to tap a second import to help Durham.
Meralco, actually, has a game against Rain or Shine on 28 September, but the league is set to re-schedule it to give way for the prestigious tourney in the Thai province of Nonthaburi.