Hotshots scuttle Beermen for shot at playoff bonus
Magnolia coach Chito Victolero asked his charges to treat Sunday night’s battle with San Miguel as their first playoff game, and his Hotshots performed like it was one and got the result they all wanted.
The Hotshots used a fiery fourth quarter to roll past the Beermen, 100-90, ending their PBA Philippine Cup eliminations campaign on a winning note at Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym while keeping the No. 2 seed within reach.
“This is the start of our playoffs,” Victolero said during the customary winning coach’s interview. “I’m really thankful that the guys committed, that they gave everything they could and worked together.”
Paul Lee uncorked 18 of his 32 points in the final period to grease Magnolia’s breakaway en route to an 8-3 record.
The waiting starts
Calvin Abueva scored just eight points but provided a lot of the other things needed with 10 rebounds, four assists and a block.
Ian Sangalang turned in his usual double-double, finishing with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Jerrick Ahanmisi provided the additional punch with 11.
And while his team’s showing was commendable, it’s the most Victolero could do now as they await the results of Meralco’s last two elimination games, where the Bolts will need just a split of their final two outings, which would be against NLEX and defending champion Barangay Ginebra, to clinch the coveted No. 2 spot that dangles a playoff armor.
“We were 7-4 in the last bubble, but we were No. 7. Now, at 8-3, we’ve learned a lot,” said Victolero. “This time, we may have lost some games, but we played consistent basketball.”
CJ Perez starred once again for San Miguel, which is already assured of a spot in the next round. The spitfire guard had 20 points, seven boards, three assists and a steal for the Beermen, who dropped to 6-4 with a game against Alaska left.
Another loss for the the powerhouse could trigger several complications in the race among teams in the middle, and even bottom of the pack.
New Blackwater coach
But there’s no team in a worse situation than the Gin Kings, who could also figure in a three-way tie at 4-7 with Alaska and Phoenix, but could still be eliminated following the league’s quotient system.
Meanwhile, the Blackwater franchise has appointed its alternate governor and veteran coach Ariel Vanguardia as the club’s interim mentor.
The development comes on the heels of the Bossing’s winless campaign this tournament. The club ended the conference with 12 defeats, with its futility stretching to a total of 19 defeats dating back to last year’s bubble conference—the worst losing streak by any team in PBA history.
“It’s a debacle like the pandemic,” team owner Dioceldo Sy told the Inquirer also on Sunday afternoon. “So sorry to all of the Bossing’s fans.”
Nash Racela, who once coached and led TNT to five playoff runs and a finals appearance, ends his Blackwater stint with a forgettable 2-20 record. INQ
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