Mendoza: Hope for Magnolia

·2 min read

Magnolia made matters a bit delectable after Sunday’s survival show.

Just when pundits thought the end was near, if not here, the Pambansang Manok Hotshots hammered out a performance worthy of an Oscar nomination.

With five of Magnolia’s never-say-die troopers unleashing double-digit figures, the Hotshots finally put a stop to their shameful acting in the first two games and gained their self-esteem in a prideful 106-98 Game 3 victory over TNT Tropang Giga.

The win did not only mend a heart about to be broken beyond bypass surgery but, more importantly, the 2-1 result steered Magnolia clear of imminent danger.

Had TNT made it three straight against Magnolia in the best-of-seven series for the PBA Philippine Cup at the DHVSU Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga, it would’ve resulted in a next-to-impossible recovery for the Hotshots.

Only one team in the league’s 46-year history—and in any basketball loop in the world for that matter, including America’s 75-year-old NBA—has rallied from 3-0 to steal a 4-3 titular victory.

And that’s San Miguel Beer, whose improbable 4-3 triumph in 2016 came after Alaska blew a 3-0 lead that rewrote history in a most bizarre manner.

With that specter of a disaster effectively thrown out the window on Sunday, is Magnolia back in business?

Yes, very much.

All Magnolia coach Chito Victolero has to do is harness his terrific trio of Paul Lee, Ian Sangalang and Calvin Abueva in a calculated manner the way he did in Game 3. Blend them with thinking teammates like Marc Barroca (16 points, including a game-clinching bank shot) and Jio Jalalon (11), consistently.

The 55 points alone of Magnolia’s total 106 came from Lee (21 points), Sangalang (20) and Abueva (14). Sangalang’s two charities helped seal the deal in the last 20 seconds of the game.

A gaping hole I saw was the explosion of TNT’s Mikey Williams. Yes, he banged home 39 game-high points, including an all-time Finals outing of 10 triples. But that was more of a bane than a boon as his teammates seemed to have been lulled into sleep watching Williams do his virtual one-man act.

Where did teamwork go?

After Williams’ 39, TNT’s next best was RR Pogoy’s 14. Poy Erram and Jayson Castro had measly 10 and 9 points, respectively.

And so, there is hope for Magnolia. It can take full form on Oct. 27.

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