The Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok is scheduled for a best-of-seven championship series against the San Miguel Beermen at 6:30 P.M. on April 1, 2018 live from the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
It’s Happy Easter and many PBA fans will celebrate it along with the continuation of 2017-18 PBA Philippine Cup Finals. Both the Beermen and the Hotshots are tied in the series at 1-1 and winning tonight’s ball-game can dictate its momentum.
Unlike in their first game against the defending champion in this year’s All-Filipino finals round, Magnolia were not able to complete the comeback and steal another game. Although they’re able to untie the 21-point lead twice but San Miguel showed composure in Game 2 and eventually won the game.
“Dapat next game hindi ganito,” Hotshots guard Mark Barroca said after Game 2. “Kasi pag ganito lagi, ang hirap, lagi kaming naghahabol sa huli.”
Ian Sangalang who was magnificent in Game 1 was limited only to 11 points and 5 rebounds. Coach Leo Austria respect to the Pambansang Manok forward probably has increased as he designed defensive strategy only for Sangalang.
Paul Lee on the other hand still isn’t in his usual “Lee-thal Weapon” mode but was seen a slight improvement in the previous game where he delivered 13 points for the Hotshots. His coach as well as his fans still waiting for him to explode and they’re hoping it will be tonight in order for them to take a 2-1 series advantage.
For SMB coach Leo Austria on the other hand, it’s unusual to see that apart from his super-5 lineup (composed of Ross, Lassiter, Fajardo, Cabagnot and Santos) he will be able to find scoring support from his bench. That what happened in Game 2 where Brian Heruela, Billy Mamaril and Matt Ganuelas-Rosser answered the challenge of their coach.
“Also a big key was Brian Heruela, Billy Mamaril and Matt Ganuelas-Rosser combining for 20 bench points for their team,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero.
With the long championship drought, coach Austria is aware that the Pambansang Manok players are looking forward to end it. However, he still got his “Kraken” to help him defend the crown.
“Magnolia is a strong contender and they are really hungry to win a championship. It’s only a matter of time they would already catch up on us. Good thing, we have June Mar (Fajardo). They’re already finding ways to stop him, but we keep on adjusting,” said Austria.