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Magnolia on brink of breaking four-year final appearance drought


PhilBoxing.com


In the 2017 PBA season-opening Philippine Cup Finals, the Magnolia Hotshots led the Barangay Ginebra Kings 2-0 after two games of their best of-seven semifinal round series.

The Kings came back though to win Games 3 and 4 to tie the series at two victories apiece before the Hotshots recovered their bearings to take Game 5 and regain the upper hand, 3-2, in the process moving within just a triumph of claiming their first Finals stint since their 2014 Grand Slam season while playing the San Mig Coffee banner.

It didn?t happen. Ginebra won the last two games to eliminate Magnolia and set the stage for a championship showdown with another sister team and eventual winner San Miguel Beer.

The Hotshots will try to erase the ghost of that fateful moment in this, the 2K18 season-ending Governors? Cup where they, like last season, they?re at the helm, 2-0, in their best-of-five championship showdown.

And the time for them to clear their minds of that sad memory come Wednesday in Game 3 when they face anew the Kings with an eye on the first championship playoff berth coupled with embarrassing their stablemates via a sweep.

Magnolia, made it two in-a-row over Ginebra with a 101-97 squeaker on Sunday in Game 2 in fitting follow up to its 106-98 first game triumph in the series opener Friday.

Magnolia coach Chito Victolero himself admitted he and his boys are using the 2017 Philippine Cup semifinal setback to Ginebra as added motivation to close the series out on Wednesday.

"We still remember the Philippine Cup last year, when we were up 2-0, but we lost the series," Victolero said during the Game 2 post-game conference. "I still remember that. My players still remember that, so that is going to be our inspiration for this series."

Magnolia spitfirish point-guard Marc Barroca echoed his coach?s sentiment saying he and his teammates know too well that a 2-0 series lead against Ginebra does not guarantee that they'd make it to the finals, recalling their 2017 experience.

"We were also up 2-0 against them but they got back,? he said in Tagalog in a TV interview. ?We won Game 5 but we still lost the series," Barroca said.

"We know 2-0 is not a safe lead so we need to stay aggressive because when Ginebra gets going, they are still very dangerous. They?re the never-say die team, remember.?

?Winning against Ginebra is not that easy, we know that. Every team in the league are privy to that,? team manager Alvin Patrimonio, a former heart and soul of the Purefoods, Inc. franchise, for his part said.

?Stick to game plan talaga para makuha Game 3. Mas mahirap kung hahaba pa series, the four-time league MVP averred.

To leave another day though, The Kings must solve the paralizing defense the Hotshots have been throwing at them plus their inability to adjust to referees? calls or non-calls.

With the Hotshots loaded with guards who continuously pressure and harass their Ginebra counterparts all game-long, the Kings' normally fluid offense bogged down.

The players were not the only ones affected by the referees' perceived calls and non-calls with coach Tim Cone exploding early in the fourth quarter, was called for two technical fouls and was ejected from the playing court.

Assistant coach Richard del Rosario took over, but just the same he Kings failed to contain the Hotshots determined surge built around rebellion sopping efforts of import Romeo Travis, Paul Lee, Barroca and defense-oriented Rome dela Rosa in the payoff period.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Eddie Alinea.


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