Hotshots hold fort in tight finish to thwart rallying Beermen in Game 1
Magnolia’s defense was at its unflinching best when it mattered and the Hotshots gutted out a 99-94 victory over San Miguel Beer in Game 1 of their PBA Philippine Cup title series on Wednesday night at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“I talked to my players at halftime and told them that we can’t beat San Miguel in an offensive game, and that we can’t stray away from our identity,” coach Chito Victolero said.
“I’m happy that they responded to my challenge to play defense in the second half. And we’re able to limit them under a hundred points. And that’s the key.”
The Hotshots did all the right things in the stretch, surviving June Mar Fajardo’s mammoth game for the psychological edge going into Fridays Game 2.
Ian Sangalang had 17 points and 12 rebounds and held his own against Fajardo when the going was roughest as Magnolia, like it did in these Finals last season, also won the series opener.
Fajardo, who stands to win a record sixth straight Best Player of the Conference award before Game 4 next week, had 35 points and 21 rebounds for San Miguel.
Alex Cabagnot had 18 and Arwind Santos 12 points and 15 rebounds for San Miguel, which is shooting to win this tournament for an unprecedented fifth straight time.
Fajardo, meanwhile, stayed well ahead of everyone in the statistical points race through the end of the semifinals, giving him the inside track for the BPC.
Curiously, the 6-foot-10 center is the only member of the powerhouse San Miguel team to
make the lost of candidates, with NorthPort’s Big Three of Sean
Anthony, Stanley Pringle and Moala Tautuaa and TNT KaTropa gunner RR Pogoy completing
the list of candidates—the top five players in the SP derby—from which voters will choose from.
Fajardo led the field with an average of 41.4 SPs per game.
MAGNOLIA 99—Lee 18, Sangalang 17, Barroca 17, Jalalon 16, Reavis 12, Melton 11, Ramos 4, Dela Rosa 4, Pascual 0, Brondial 0, Simon 0.
SAN MIGUEL 94—Fajardo 35, Cabagnot 18, Santos 13, Pessumal 11, Romeo 8, Ross 5, Ganuelas-Rosser 2, Standhardinger 2, Nabong 0, Lassiter 0.
Quarters: 34-30, 52-55, 80-73, 99-94.
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