Magnolia thrives in the trenches in PBA semis opener | Inquirer Sports

Magnolia thrives in the trenches in PBA semis opener

/ 05:20 AM January 25, 2024

Magnolia import Tyler Bey hangs on to the rim against Phoenix in the PBA Commissioner's Cup semifinals.

Magnolia import Tyler Bey hangs on to the rim against Phoenix in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals.–MARLO CUETO/

The way Magnolia found ways to weather a rough and tumble opening act with Phoenix on Wednesday could be the theme of how either team could emerge victorious in their PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinal series.

“We couldn’t find our rhythm,” admitted coach Chito Victolero after the Hotshots’ 82-79 victory over the Fuel Masters at Smart Araneta Coliseum. “I told them that we have to grind every single possession and we have to show our mental toughness.”


Magnolia endured a game that saw both teams fail to hit at least 40 percent of their shots, with import Tyler Bey shrugging off his own struggles by scoring a three-point play off a drop-off pass by Paul Lee with 1:27 to go.


READ: PBA: Defense is key for Magnolia in semis Game 1 win

Bey, who after knocking off TNT in the quarterfinals was tagged as perhaps the biggest key in Magnolia’s aspirations of winning its first PBA title since the 2018 Governors’ Cup, expects to see new things that would greatly challenge his team’s ultimate mission in Game 2.

“For me, I don’t feel the pressure. I just gotta learn and keep going,” said Bey as the Hotshots try to beat the Fuel Masters anew on Friday evening at Mall of Asia Arena. “It’s a big game, the second game [of the series]. For us, we have to go back to the drawing board, be better and just learn from our mistakes.”

He had 23 points and 10 rebounds, but was 8-of-23 from the floor and missed all six shots from beyond the arc.

But Magnolia will gladly accept the outcome after playing its first match since the previous Wednesday and facing a Phoenix team three days removed from eliminating Meralco in a hard-fought quarterfinals that needed two games to be settled.

Williams checked

And the underdog Phoenix squad showed no signs of weariness, even leading by nine in the third quarter after showing an equally tight defense and playing with a purpose despite import Johnathan Williams ending up with just 11 points.

Just the third time

Jason Perkins once again showed why this conference is arguably the best of his career, scoring 25 points and embracing the physicality of the Magnolia frontline that also has former Phoenix teammate Calvin Abueva.


Magnolia made just 39 percent of its shots, way below its clip of 45 percent before this series which ranked the team third behind sister teams San Miguel Beer and Barangay Ginebra.

READ: PBA: Jason Perkins looks forward to matchup with pal Abueva

Paul Lee was the top local scorer with 11 points but was 3-of-10, while Jio Jalalon was just 3-for-11 for seven points.

But Victolero was pleased that they were able to limit the Fuel Masters on the other end to a 37-percent clip with a defense that held a team below 80 points for just the third time this conference.

“Hopefully, we could keep this trend throughout the series so that we can have a chance of winning,” Victolero said.

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“But we also had a hard time scoring against them because they do a good job disrupting our offense,” he added.

TAGS: Magnolia, PBA, Phoenix

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