Magnolia’s defense at it again, keys Game 3 win over San Miguel
Manila, Philippines— Magnolia coach Chito Victolero’s only takeaway from his team’s loss two nights ago was their failure to control the pace.
Having said that, and with his Hotshots doing what they were supposed to, Magnolia eased ahead of San Miguel Beer in their PBA Philippine Cup title playoffs after an 86-82 Game 3 victory before a loud crowd at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Magnolia took its turn in coming up with a sterling effort in the middle two quarters, taking command there to eventually take a 2-1 lead and get some sort of momentum going into Game 4 Wednesday also at the Big Dome.
Rafi Reavis made up for a lackluster Game 2 effort, while Mark Barroca hit a lot of shots that stung the Beermen in the stretch to help the Hotshots weather several San Miguel rallies.
“We were more aggressive, we dictated the tempo and the defense and that ended up being key,” Victolero said. “I keep on saying these things [to my players].”
Victolero also did not fail to give praise to Reavis, the 41-year-old veteran who is his most decorated player with 11 titles.
“He’s the best matchup for June Mar (Fajardo) and Arwind (Santos). It’s always like that—whenever [he] has a good game, we have a good chance [at winning].” Victolero said of Reavis, who had 16 points, 15 rebounds and two steals.
Ian Sangalang led all Magnolia scorers with 17, with Barroca shooting 15, capped by seven of the Hotshots’ last 11 points.
Santos and Fajardo scored 19 and 17 points, respectively for the Beermen, while Terrence Romeo tossed in 15 to go with Alex Cabagnot’s 11.
“They had a great adjustment and they were able to disrupt our [schemes],” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria. “So credit to them for holding us to just 82 points. More than anything else, I think their defense was very good tonight.”
“We were out-hustled and they outran us. I guess our efforts weren’t just enough” he added.
The win also quashed parallelism to last year’s title series, where Magnolia also won Game 1 only to lose the next four.
“I’ve told the players that we’ve actually matured a lot. What we just have to do is get over the hump,” Victolero said.
But he is also aware that the trek is only going to get steeper from here on out.
“We only won two games. We need four. The only good thing out of this is that we’re leading,” he said of the series lead. /bmjo
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