Hotshots burn down Aces
The PBA Governors’ Cup series many see to be so evenly matched finally got off the ground after a long wait on Wednesday night, and Magnolia wasted no time in showing how one-sided this might be.
Scoring the first 15 points and never looking back, the Hotshots fended off Alaska’s dogged rallies the rest of the way to score a 100-84 Game 1 victory, which threw all preseries hype in disarray.
Magnolia broke out of the gates hard at Mall of Asia Arena and capitalized on the Aces’ failure to buy an early bucket, racing to a 15-0 lead that Alaska spent the rest of the game trying—in vain—to overhaul, with the Hotshots even erecting leads of as many as 21 points.
“They have been very sharp in our practices,” said coach Chito Victolero, when asked why his charges were so efficient despite the two-week break leading to this best-of-seven series. “We’re happy that we won, of course, but this is only the start.”
Victolero knows the character of the enemy and is not about to let his wards celebrate prematurely.
“After tonight, we need to prepare hard again,” he said. “Every game will be a dogfight, a grinding game. It will be another battle on Friday. We need to be ready mentally and physically.”
Marc Barroca had a string of five critical points that doused cold water on the last of Alaska’s rallies, as the Hotshots took an 89-76 lead heading into the final 3:47 and afforded Victolero to recall import Romeo Travis to the bench in the endgame to preserve his legs.
“We will try to figure out what we did right and what we did wrong today,” Victolero said when asked how they will spend the eve of Game 2, slated Friday at 7 p.m. at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao. “There’s still a long way to go. We cannot relax and instead, we need to push harder.
“This is still a long series,” he concluded.
Travis scored 29 points and pulled down 13 rebounds.
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