by Jonas Terrado
Magnolia regained its defensive swagger after a frustrating performance the last time, downing San Miguel Beer, 86-82, for a 2-1 lead in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Hotshots turned their focus on making life miserable for Beermen center June Mar Fajardo with veteran Rafi Reavis, Ian Sangalang and Kyle Pascual making sure they would recover from a 108-101 loss in Game 2.
Reavis continued to defy Father Time by putting up 16 points and 15 rebounds, Sangalang delivered 17 points and 15 rebounds, and Pascual surprised everyone by posting six points and five rebounds.
The three were responsible in Magnolia’s control of the glass, hauling down 71 rebounds compared to just 46 for San Miguel.
Magnolia once again reduced Fajardo’s supporting cast to an afterthought as when San Miguel got to within two, 68-66, on Arwind Santos’ three with 10:45 left in the fourth.
Reavis capped off a string of seven straight points with back-to-back baskets to make it 75-66 with 4:30 to go while forcing San Miguel to miss seven straight three-point shots.
San Miguel changed its strategy by going to Fajardo at the post but Magnolia was up to the challenge and preserved the victory.
“We were more aggressive and we dictated the tempo of the game,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero.
The Hotshots are hoping to sustain the momentum for a commanding 3-1 lead in Wednesday’s fourth game at the same venue.
Santos scored 19 points but went 8-of-22 from the field and Fajardo went 4-of-11 despite 17 points.
The rest of the talent-laden Beermen were anemic on the offensive end with Chris Ross going 2-of-10 for seven points, Marcio Lassiter six points on 2-of-9, Alex Cabagnot 11 points on 4-of-13 and Terrence Romeo 5-of-13 despite 15 points.
“We were outhustled and outworked and our effort was not enough,” said SMB coach Leo Austria, putting in plain words the Beermen’s plight in Game 3.
Magnolia 86 – Barroca 22, Sangalang 17, Reavis 16, Lee 8, Jalalon 7, Dela Rosa 7, Pascual 6, Ramos 3, Brondial 0, Simon 0, Melton 0.
San Miguel 82 – Santos 19, Fajardo 17, Romeo 15, Cabagnot 11, Lassiter 6, Ross 7, Standhardinger 7, Rosser 0, Nabong 0, Pessumal 0.
Quarterscores: 21-24, 36-45, 66-58, 86-82.