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Hotshots eye PBA crown

Magnolia gears up for closeout game while Compton, Alaska ‘resolve’ to forge Game 7
By: - Reporter / @MusongINQ
/ 05:06 AM December 19, 2018

magnolia hotshotsPaul Lee knows what to expect the next time he and his fellow Magnolia Hotshots step on the court.

“Everyone knows that it’s the most difficult game there is—the closeout game,” Lee said as he and the Hotshots go for all the PBA Governors’ Cup marbles Wednesday night against formidable Alaska in Game 6 of their best-of-seven championship series at Ynares Center in Antipolo.

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And Lee, the reason why the Hotshots are holding a 3-2 lead and have a chance to close this one out starting at 7 p.m., knows exactly what to do—or try to do.

“I just want to enjoy the moment,” he said, as he tries to lead the Hotshots to their first title since 2014, the franchise’s Grand Slam season, and put an exclamation point to what has been one of the finest conferences of his storied pro career.

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But from how the series has gone it won’t be too much fun out there—unless you’re the eventual victor.

“It’s going to be another grind-out game, another dogfight,” Magnolia coach Chito Victolero said after moving on the threshold of a first coaching title.

“Definitely, this game is not going to be easy. Alaska won’t give this to us, and we won’t give it to them either,” he said.

Aces import Mike Harris is aware the Hotshots will do everything to stop a decider.

“It boils down to one game,” he said. “One game for us to take this to a Game 7, and one game for them to win. I’m sure they wouldn’t want to play us in a Game 7.”

The series—bereft of the mammoth live attendance despite it being one of the most balanced in recent years—will playa possible Game 7 at cavernous Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan, on Friday.

Both teams will be coming off a five-day break as the league gave way to the annual Rookie Draft last Sunday, something that served the Hotshots and the Aces well.

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“I think we’re up for a very frenetic, more exciting game,” Alaska’s Alex Compton said.

Compton, who is also shooting to win a first title as a coach on his fifth try, said the 79-78 Game 5 loss, made possible when Lee hit a short corner jumper with 1.3 seconds left on Friday, reflects only on the standing of the series and not on his team.

“The team is great,” he continued over the phone. “[The Game 5 defeat] hurts, but it wasn’t spirit-crushing. I don’t think we lack resolve [going into Game 6]. I actually feel that we have increased our resolve.”

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TAGS: Basketball, Hotshots, Paul Lee, PBA governors’ cup, Sports
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