CLOSEOUT GAME

By: Inquirer.net December 18,2018 - 09:06 PM

Magnolia goes for the kill in Game 6 of PBA Governor’s Cup Finals

Paul Lee knows what type of game he and his fellow Magnolia Hotshots will be playing next.

“Everyone knows that it’s the most difficult game there is — the closeout game,” Lee said as he and the Hotshots go for all the PBA Governors’ Cup marbles Wednesday night against formidable Alaska in Game 6 of their best-of-seven championship series at Ynares Center in Antipolo.

And Lee, the reason why the Hotshots are holding a 3-2 lead and have a chance to close this one out at 7 p.m., knows exactly what to do.

At least he said he’ll try to.

“I just want to enjoy the moment,” he said as he tries to lead the Hotshots to their first title since 2014, the franchise’s Grand Slam season, and put an exclamation point to what has been one of the finest conferences of his storied pro career.

But from how the series has gone, at least in the first five games, it won’t be too much fun out there.

It would be, of course, only for the one that wins this game.

“It’s going to be another grind-out game, another dogfight,” Magnolia coach Chito Victolero said after moving on the threshold of a first coaching title since entering the league as KIA’s mentor four years ago.

“Definitely, this game is not going to be easy. Alaska won’t give this to us, and we won’t give it to them either,” he said.

The Aces will go all out to win this one and drag the series into a decider, something which import Mike Harris said the Hotshots wouldn’t want.

“It boils down to one game,” he said.

“One game for us to take this to a Game 7, and one game for them to win. I’m sure they wouldn’t want to play us in a Game 7.”

The series — bereft of the mammoth live attendance despite it being one of the most balanced in recent years — will play its Game 7 at cavernous Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan, on Friday, if ever.

Both teams will be coming off a five-day break as the league gave way to the annual Rookie Draft last Sunday, something that serves the Hotshots and the Aces well.

“I think we’re up for a very frenetic, more exciting game,” Alaska’s Alex Compton said.

Compton, who is also shooting to win a first title as a coach and do so in his fifth try, said that a 79-78 Game 5 loss, made possible when Lee hit a short corner jumper with 1.3 seconds left last Friday, only reflects on the standing of the series and not his team.

“The team is great,” he continued over the phone. “It hurts (the Game 5 defeat), but it wasn’t spirit-crushing. I don’t think we lack resolve (going into Game 6). I actually feel that we have increased our resolve.”

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