By REYNALD MAGALLON
Magnolia survived a huge second-half uprising from TNT to come away with a nail-biting 92-88 win and tie their best-of-seven semifinals series in the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup on a rainy Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Hotshots, after struggling to complete a stop in Game 1, finally regained their defensive intensity in the first half and limited the Tropang Giga to just 29 points although they still had to weather a huge fourth-quarter storm from Mikey Williams to score the series equalizer after two matches.
“Di naman talaga namin kaya na ma-stop si Mikey, ang goal namin ma-limit yung contributions niya sa TNT and once mag-init talaga siya tuluy-tuloy. But I want to give credit to Rome (Dela Rosa. They did a good job on defending Williams,” said Victolero after limiting Williams to just three points in the first half.
Despite pinning down the high-scoring guard in the first half, Williams still found a way to get his rhythm going in the next two quarters, erupting for 25 of his 28-point total to help TNT threaten late in the game.
“We have to be consistent, mayroon talagang mga span nung game na talagang dirediretso yung points niya but it’s all about team defense. The big men nag-help din sila sa small guys namin it’s a total team effort,” added Victolero.
Mark Barroca led the way for Magnolia with 22 points including the timely baskets which kept the Hotshots afloat in the face of the huge TNT rally. Ian Sangalang chipped in 20 points and eight rebounds while Calvin Abueva added 17.
Meralco turned back San Miguel, 99-88, to give head coach Norman Black a winning return and more importantly tie their best-of-seven semifinals series in the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup on Friday, Aug. 5, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Bolts squandered a huge 17-point lead in the first half but recovered just in time in the final frame behind the big plays from Toto Jose, Aaron Black and Raymond Almazan to set the semis showdown on equal footing at 1-1.
Only up by two, 76-74, early in the fourth quarter, Jose provided a huge lift for Meralco, scoring seven of his 13 points during a 9-2 spurt which proved to be the pivotal run for the Bolts as they built an 85-76 cushion.
SMB tried to rally behind June Mar Fajardo in the waning minutes but timely hits from Black and Chris Newsome kept the Beermen at bay until the final buzzer.
Black was pleased to see his team share the ball well especially against a very talented team like San Miguel.
“(Teamwork) is something we always preach, in fact we want to get about 25 or 26 assists a game. Get everybody involved in the offense and make it a little difficult for teams to stop us if it’s a lot of guys out there scoring,” said Black who finally returned to the Bolts sideline after missing nine games when he took a leave to attend to his then-ailing mother.
MERALCO 99 – Hodge 17, Black 15, Maliksi 15, Newsome 14, Jose 13, Banchero 9, Quinto 9, Almazan 7, Pasaol 0, Baclao 0, Pascual 0, Belo 0, Caram 0.
SAN MIGUEL 88 – Fajardo 22, Lassiter 16, Perez 14, Cruz 11, Manuel 7, Herndon 6, Tautuaa 5, Brondial 4, Ross 3, Enciso 0.
Quarterts: 34-20, 51-48, 76-72, 99-88.
MAGNOLIA 92 – Barroca 22, Sangalang 20, Abueva 18, Lee 10, Reavis 9, Wong 5, Jalalon 4, Dela Rosa 2, Laput 2, Dionisio 0.
TNT 88 –M.Williams 28, Castro 17, Erram 13, Pogoy 11, Rosario 10, K.Williams 6, Montalbo 3, Khobuntin 0, Alejandro 0, Marcelo 0, Ganuelas-Rosser 0.
Quarters: 18-12, 39-29, 69-58, 92-88.