Magnolia nears finals, overcomes Ginebra
Chito Victolero and the rest of his Magnolia Hotshots remember things perfectly well, and it is bitter memories against Barangay Ginebra that is driving this upset machine in this side of the PBA Governors’ Cup’s Final Four.
With a defensive game that refuses to budge an inch and an efficient offense that has befuddled the Gin Kings, Magnolia took a 2-0 lead over defending champion Ginebra after a 101-97 victory on Monday night at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, with the Hotshots getting three match points for redemption.
“My players still remember that, we were 2-0 (up) in the Philippine Cup (semifinals last year),” Victolero said. “That is our inspiration—to get that third win. We experienced that (going on to lose the series) before. And we don’t want that happening again.”
Ginebra rallied in that series to win it in Game 7, but this being a shorter series, the Hotshots have three chances to make a title playoff appearance for the second time this year and be the favored team against whichever advances from the Meralco-Alaska match-up that the Bolts lead, 1-0.
“Being 2-0 up in a best-of-five series is nothing until you win the third game,” Victolero said after getting 25 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists from import Romeo Travis and 17 points from Ian Sangalang. “We need three wins to make the Finals and we will prepare harder for Game 3.”
The potential series-clinching match is slated Wednesday also at the Big Dome, and Victolero is more concerned about preparing his team mentally.
“They need to have the proper set of minds, the will, the desire,” he said. “We know that we are the underdogs and we need to work hard, to double our efforts to have a chance (at closing out) this series.”
Justin Brownlee scored 31 points but was evidently punished by the Magnolia defense for the second straight game. The Hotshots’ clamping inside defense also limited Ginebra twin towers of Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar to a combined 29 points.
Ginebra coach Tim Cone was also ejected with over nine minutes left after continuously arguing with game officials.
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