THE Magnolia Hotshots will be trying to close out the Meralco Bolts in Game 5 of the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals, and book a ticket to the finals, on Oct. 13, 2021 at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
The Hotshots are well aware of the fact that the Bolts will not just hand them a win that will place them in the Best-of-7 championship round. And so, veteran guard Mark Barroca is imploring his teammates to outwork their resilient opponents.
“Based on my experience, closing out a series is very hard,” said Barroca.
“So whatever effort we gave in Game 4, we need to triple that to get the win. Meralco won’t give in. If it were us in that position, that’s what we would do,” said Barroca.
Magnolia took a 3-1 series lead after it blew away the Bolts, 81-69, in Game 4. With this commanding lead, the odds appear to be in Magnolia’s favor. According to PBA’s longtime statistician Fidel Mangonon, 52 out of the 56 teams that have taken a 3-1 lead in a best-of-seven series have gone on to win, including 27 of the last 28 teams.
Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero echoed his cagey veteran’s assessment.
“Mark is correct. It’s hard to close out a series because the effort and aggressiveness of the other team will definitely be higher.”
Victolero knows that Meralco is capable of bouncing back, as shown by their 91-86 win in Game 3.
“We’ve learned from that and I think we’ll just try to stay focused, recharged, refreshed,” Victolero said.