Meralco seeks first EASL win against Ryukyu in Macau

Meralco seeks first EASL win against Ryukyu in Macau

Game Wednesday
(Studio City Event Center)
7 p.m. — Meralco vs Ryukyu

MACAU — Meralco looks to tap into the strong presence of Filipinos here for added voltage as it bids to break through in the East Asia Super League (EASL).

The Bolts seek their maiden victory against Japan’s Ryukyu Golden Kings at 7 p.m. tonight in a “home away from home” Group B gig at the Studio City Event Center in Cotai.

“Filipinos are global and they always show love,” Meralco ace Chris Newsome said, expecting countrymen to be in full force at the 5,000-seater arena that previously hosted big entertainment events like concerts of Madonna, GOT7, Aaron Kwok and BTS.

“Even though we’re away from the Philippines, we have a lot of fans and it’s going to feel like a home game,” added the Gilas Pilipinas mainstay.

Revenge also drives the Bolts (0-2) in this return match with former import Allen Durham and the Golden Kings (2-1), who handed them an 89-61 beating the first time around in Okinawa on Nov. 15.

“We dropped the first game so we’re going to be hungry to get this win. We got one Filipino (Carl Tamayo) and somebody we played with in the PBA before (Durham) to match up with. It’s exciting to play Round 2 against them,” said Mr. Newsome.

One key variable the troops of Luigi Trillo count on is the explosive reinforcement Zach Lofton, who wasn’t around yet the first time.

Big man Prince Ibeh solely carried the fight for Meralco against Ryukyu’s Mr. Durham and Jack Cooley as visa problems forced Su Braimoh to stay home then.

Mr. Lofton came on board after the Ryukyu tussle and debuted with 35 points in a 92-97 setback to Jeremy Lin-led New Taipei Kings on the road Nov. 29.

In the PBA last Sunday,  the 6-foot-3 Mr. Lofton caught fire with 54 markers spiked by nine triples in a 125-99 rout of NorthPort and the Bolts hope his hot hands stay hot.

“We’re confident in his capabilities. He scored 54 and I think it’s a good thing for him (going to the Ryukyu game),” said Mr. Trillo.

Moreover, local gunner Allein Maliksi is back in the fold after sitting out the first two matches due to a nose injury.

A day before the “Clash of the Champions” gig held in partnership between the EASL and Melco Resorts & Entertainment, the Bolts visited Sam Yuk School while Mr. Trillo conducted a Q&A with local youth coaches about developing young players. — Olmin Leyba