Oct 09, 2021

After taking Game 3, Meralco aims to level series versus Magnolia

IT'S now Magnolia Ang Pambansang Manok's turn to show its own true fighting heart.

The Hotshots should Sunday if they want to at least keep their enviable position over Meralco in their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal duel at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.

The Bolts seemingly wrested momentum following a 91-86 victory last Friday, narrowing their deficit in the best-of-seven series at 1-2.

Game 4 is set at 4:35 p.m.

And if there's a list of teams capable of racking up three straight wins, Meralco should be right up there after stringing up four victories to end the eliminations and emerge as the second-seed in the playoffs.

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His Bolts may have put themselves back in the series, but coach Norman Black maintained they are not out of the woods just yet with their main priority now getting their legs under them again so as to have the same energy and spunk they showed in Game 3.

"They (Hotshots) still have a 2-1 advantage so they're still up, as far as the series is concerned," Black pointed out.

True enough, coach Chito Victolero maintains the loss is not enough reason for his team to scatter off in alarm.

"Not the time to panic, but it's the time to have that sense of urgency na we need to go back to our system, kung ano nagdala sa amin dito sa semis," said Victolero on the eve of Game 4.

"Siguro we need to match 'yung will to win and aggressiveness nila," added Victolero. "Kaya we need to try and refocus again and we need to bounce back hard."

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Indeed, Meralco showed its will in Game 3 as it bucked the absence of several players, foremost of which is starting center Raymond Almazan (sprained left ankle), in coming out hard and burying Magnolia into a deep 21-point bind.

The Hotshots did snap out of their stupor and even closed to within three points, but time was not on their side and the Bolts held on to avoid a 0-3 rut which only the San Miguel Beermen of the 2016 Philippine Cup finals have gotten out of.

"We expected the best game of Meralco in Game 3 because of what's at stake for them. Pinag-usapan nga naming 'yun sa pre-game," related Victolero.

"Ang mahirap, hindi namin natapatan, 'yung kanilang aggressiveness saka will nila," added Victolero. "Pero I expect na we can and will avoid that sa Game 4." (NC)