Mar 21, 2023

Bolts, Hotshots brace for tough battle

THOUGH gaining the twice-to-beat incentive just by virtue of a superior quotient, the fourth-seeded Meralco Bolts, nonetheless, are determined to cash in on it.

They hope to follow the lead of No. 2 San Miguel Beer and No. 3 Barangay Ginebra, eyeing to land the haymaker on No. 5 Magnolia in one shot.

But though the disadvantaged side -- needing to win two in a row to salvage the matchup, the Hotshots are hopeful to buck the odds.

The Bolts and the Hotshots clash in what is seen as the toughest clash in the PBA Governors' Cup quarterfinals.

Game time is at 5:45 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, succeeding the 3 p.m. tussle between top seed TNT Tropang Giga and No. 8 Phoenix Super LPG.

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Coach Norman Black and his troops barely squeezed out an 86-84 win over the Hotshots in their elims tiff - a duel between two teams which both thrive on playing lockdown defense.

The result of the match was hardly decisive.

Then throw in their almost identical stats in the elims, and one would really anticipate a slam bang showdown.

Magnolia is No. 1 in points allowed, giving up 99.3 a game while Meralco is No. 2 with 99.8. The standings are reversed in field goal percentage allowed with Meralco No. 1 at 41.8 percent and Magnolia, No. 2 at 42. They're also neck-to-neck in the rebounding ladder as Magnolia is No. 1 with 53 boards an outing and Meralco No. 2 at 52.

The two teams figured in a best-of-five semifinals showdown in the same conference last year. The series went the full distance with the Bolts pulling through, 94-81, behind the hot hands of Allein Maliksi and the all-around game of Tony Bishop.

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In the rematch, the two teams will field almost the same local casts.

Something new is the import matchup pitting Meralco's KJ McDaniels and Magnolia's Antonio Hester.

Helping out McDaniels are Maliksi, Aaron Black, Chris Newsome and Raymond Almazan while complementing Hester are Paul Lee, Calvin Abueva, Mark Barroca and Jio Jalalon.

Lee is on a roll, having won the PBA All-Star Three-Point Shootout then emerging as the MVP in the All-Star Game.

The Hotshots, however, will continue to endure the absence of Ian Sangalang. (SB)