Hotshots show signs of life, clip Tropang Giga to trim series deficit
TNT had a two-game cushion and Mikey Williams. Magnolia made sure the Tropang Giga had little else.
The Hotshots showed some signs of life in a 106-98 victory over TNT in Game 3 of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals at Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Very few people knew what to expect from Magnolia, which was mired in a 0-2 deficit in the best-of-seven series for the league’s crown jewel. They responded well, bucking a record-setting performance from TNT super rookie Williams, who hit 10 triples in a 39-point effort.
“We played better defense than we did in the first two games,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero. “We reminded ourselves that it was our defense that brought us here. So we played good defense.”
“We just got back to basics, thought of what happened in the series against Meralco and Rain or Shine and treat it as a game at a time,” Victolero added.
It was a mix of both gutsy offense and defense when it mattered.
Paul Lee and Ian Sangalang set the tone for the Hotshots, contributing 21 and 20 points respectively. Sangalang added seven rebounds, five assists and four blocks for good measure, but Lee said it was Mark Barroca’s efforts that set the tone for the team.
“He was injured but he kept fighting,” Lee said of Barroca, who scored 16 points, including a late floater that put Magnolia ahead, 100-95, with 52 seconds remaining in the match.
The Hotshots’ defense also held tight when it mattered, holding the Tropang Giga to 20 points in the first quarter and 21 in the fourth. Williams did make history with the most number of three-pointers in a finals game, but Magnolia’s defense made sure TNT didn’t get much from the rest of the roster.
RR Pogoy had 14 points while Poy Erram was the only other double-digit scorer with 10.
The Hotshots, who started the day hoping to avoid falling into a 0-3 hole, now find themselves with a shot at equalizing the series in Game 4 on Wednesday.
“Sliding into a 0-3 hole is the toughest thing to deal with in any series … everyone just bought in on the adjustments on defense … to get this win,” said Lee. INQ
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