by Jonas Terrado
Arwind Santos is looking to fulfill his own prophecy tonight as San Miguel Beer and Magnolia dispute the all-important 3-2 lead entering the pivotal stage of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Hungry to finally put San Miguel in the driver seat after a seesaw battle through four games, Santos sounded confident of his team’s chances going into the 7 p.m. match with the winner moving a game shy of capturing the season’s most prestigious competition.
“Malamang may lalamang, malamang kami na yun. Sana kami na,” Santos said after the Beermen placed the series back to square one Wednesday with a 114-98 triumph.
Santos had every reason to fire a warning shot after San Miguel’s offense returned from its Game 3 struggles with June Mar Fajardo dominating his way to 31 points thanks to 13 made baskets in 14 attempts.
San Miguel’s near 52-percent shooting was able to neutralize Magnolia’s strength on the defensive end, something coach Leo Austria hopes will continue.
“I’m expecting that the next game will be different because Magnolia wants to bounce back hard,” said Austria. “We have to be consistent in running our plays.”
While offense will be the main concern for San Miguel, Santos and Terrence Romeo believe the team should also focus on making its defense as good as Magnolia.
“Kailangan tapatan namin yung depensa nila,” said Romeo, who scored 18 points in Game 4.
Coach Chito Victolero lamented Magnolia’s defensive effort after allowing San Miguel to reach the century mark while forcing themselves to somewhat engage the Beermen in an offensive battle.
Magnolia gave up 88 points while forcing San Miguel to make 35 percent of its shots during the two wins.
However, San Miguel averaged 113 points on a 47 percent clip when it took Games 2 and 4.
“Mataas yung 100-plus points na binigay namin kaya siguro kami natalo ,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero.
“Hindi kami pwede diyan, hindi kami pwedeng sumabay sa opensa nila,” added Victolero.
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