Rosario doubtful for Game 4 due to dislocated finger, spinal shock; TNT and Magnolia look to dig deep with both teams hurting
Paul Lee, Magnolia’s lethal weapon, has been playing through pain throughout the conference. He has dealt with an assortment of injuries, from his hamstring to his knees, and now his shoulder.
But the veteran guard simply refuses to be slowed down by these hits. Lee feels the Hotshots have gone too far and came so close to a PBA title to worry about being banged up.
“Whatever I’m nursing, whatever the team’s feeling, I feel like we all just have to put it aside,” he said, shortly after starring in a 106-98 Game 3 victory that finally put Magnolia on the board in the Philippine Cup championship series.
TNT coach Chot Reyes had said as much previously, calling the series as a challenge for teams to man up.
“It’s the Finals. You just have to come out and play your best—injured or not,”’ he said at a previous interview. “We cannot worry about who’s not here, who’s not at a hundred percent.”
But that was before Sunday’s Game 3, before a hard foul by Magnolia forward Jackson Corpuz brought down TNT ace big man Troy Rosario and left him questionable for Game 4.
The versatile forward may require surgery after an “open dislocation” on his left pinky finger, TNT team manager Gabby Cui told the Inquirer on Monday afternoon.
Rosario also suffered spinal shock, leaving only 70 percent sensation on his left leg, added Cui.
Need to adjust
Rosario is just the latest worry for a TNT team that entered Game 3 looking to erect a virtually insurmountable 3-0 edge in the race-to-four affair.
The Tropang Giga were already dealing with a less-than-a-hundred-percent Kelly Williams, who has been suffering from back spasms. Williams played 27 minutes in Game 3, finishing with four points and five rebounds.
And now the Tropang Giga will need to adjust with Rosario’s injury and face a Magnolia team that went from being dumped into a deep hole to having a shot at squaring the series in Game 4.
The Hotshots aren’t exactly in the pink of health, with Lee not the sole standout hurting.
Ian Sangalang has been playing with back problems, while Mark Barocca is powering through an ailing hamstring, even managing to hit a pivotal floater down the stretch to help seal the Game 3 victory of the Hotshots.
“As what [Magnolia] coach Chito [Victolero] said, we have to learn how to play regardless of the pain we’re feeling,” Lee said.
The situation, and how the teams are dealing with it, will transform the titular showdown between two of the best two-way squads in the tournament into a grit-and-grind battle with two squads hoping to weaponize attrition against the other.
That means Game 4 could surface new heroes for both squads, just as Jio Jalalon did for the Hotshots in Game 3.
“He started strong for us on both ends of the floor,” Victolero said.
TNT and Magnolia are expected to dig deeper into their benches in what could be a defining game of the series.
“We don’t want any excuses here,” said Victolero. “We’ll need mental toughness. We want to finish the series and we don’t want any excuse that we’re wounded (sic).” INQ