Two weeks out of the final game, where Magnolia lost her first game in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup, the Hotshots returned to their dominant nature on Sunday and tore through Blackwater, 91-69, to stay at the top. knockout round.
Hotshots looked rejuvenated the entire time at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City, beating the enemy in almost every statistical category behind the stellar efforts of Ian Sangalang and Nick Rakocevic as Magnolia rose to the lead. before 6-1.
“Even though we were down 5-1 [before tip-off], it seems that’s not us. We are not in [tournament’s] Top 3 in terms of defence, so we wanted to get back to the defensive mindset, that’s really the identity of this team,” Magnolia coach Chito Victolero told reporters on his way out of the Big Dome — as still on a mobility scooter.
“We looked at a few things and then split the elimination phase into two phases. We are starting our journey in the second phase and I think we have done a good job of limiting them to less than 70 points,” he added.
Sangalang barely showed any ill effects from his accident while pregnant, picking up 17 points to lead Magnolia. Rakocevic finished with the same score when he turned 15 rebounds as the Hotshots recovered from a painful loss to sister team and strong rival Barangay Ginebra last October 23.
Scottie Thompson tripled with four seconds left as Barangay Ginebra completed a 97-96 win from behind over San Miguel Beer in the night’s final.
Gin Kings improved to 5-2 and settled the Beermen’s third loss in four games.
Rookie Ato Ular had 14 points, while Trevis Jackson added 10 for Blackwater, he suffered a third consecutive defeat in a 3-6 hand that leaves Bossing near the bottom of the leaderboard. Cameron Krutwig, the imported player that Blackwater coach Ariel Vanguardia defended to reporters after an impressive display against San Miguel Beer, finished with just eight points from 16 rebounds and failed to help his team. He accepts this match.
Victolero is truly excited about the return of his foes, which he feels must now be of utmost importance as they battle a dangerous foe.
Next, Magnolia plays Phoenix, one of the two hottest teams in the league with a five-game winning streak.
“I believe they are number one in terms of defence. So we really needed to bring our A-Game,” said Victolero.
“Topex [Robinson] [and his guys] is really hot. We expect a honing match on Saturday, an air battle,” he added of the November 12 clash at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
Blackwater, in decline after a promising turn in the Philippine Cup, battled desperate Meralco on November 11 in the same hilltop area. INQ
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