MAGNOLIA lived to fight another day in its PBA Philippine Cup semifinals series against TNT and now wants to take it at least one step farther.
But that scenario depends entirely on whether the Hotshots can successfully counter whatever adjustments the Tropang Giga are sure to come up with Sunday in Game 6 of the duel at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Game is set at 6:30 p.m.
For sure, Magnolia would be relying mostly on its defense which keyed its 105-97 victory last Friday, in the process denying TNT's bid of closing out the best-of-seven series and narrowing the latter's lead to 3-2.
"We did a good job on defense," noted Hotshots coach Chito Victolero. "Sabi ko nga, wala kaming babaguhin sa depensa namin. We're here because of our defense. We did a good job sustaining that defense for 48 minutes."
Indeed, Magnolia's defensive efforts were on full display during the second quarter when it outscored TNT, 31-19, while holding the Tropa to just an 8-for-19 field shooting and forcing them into 10 turnovers.
In contrast, the Hotshots shot a sizzling 12-for-19 from the floor while being led by Calvin Abueva, Paul Lee and Jio Jalalon, resulting in several 16-point leads and a 59-45 cushion at the break.
In the end, Magnolia did enough to hold off TNT's big second half fightback, also due largely to the fact Mikey Williams was held to only six second half points and just 13 overall on 5-for-16 shooting.
Jayson Castro, Troy Rosario and Roger Pogoy tried to pick up the slack, but they were all held to only a combined 21 points in the second half.
"Ang maganda lang doon, hindi sila sabay-sabay na pumutok kasi kung sabay-sabay mahirap," said Mark Barroca, who led Magnolia's charge with a personal career playoff high-tying 25 points.
One thing that also stood out the most is the fact the Hotshots made the stops without key players Ian Sangalang, Abueva and Lee getting into foul trouble like what hobbled them in back-to-back losses in Games 3 and 4.
"We limited the fouls and we played physical, and we still played within our game. Credit to all the players," stated Victolero. (NC)