(Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
The Hotshots use a big 3rd quarter to run away for good.
There's no denying the fact that Kiefer Ravena has made the NLEX Road Warriors a better team overall since his grand arrival to the team. And he wasn't all hype either as he backed his popularity with decent numbers as he led the Road Warriors to straight victories to open the PBA Philippine Cup. Then, he was limited to 8 points against the Phoenix Fuel Masters. Everybody had one thought after that game: Kiefer Ravena will come back better.
And that's what he did. Kiefer Ravena scored 31 points on 12 for 20 field goal shooting but the Magnolia Hotshots came out victorious, 105-94 after running away for good in the 3rd quarter. That, by the way, was Magnolia's 2nd straight victory as they hiked their record to 3-1, good for second place behind the still unbeaten San Miguel Beernen. On the other hand, NLEX absorbed its second straight defeat.
To begin with, both teams are filled with star power and the talent but what enabled Magnolia to win the game? Below are the things that gave the Hotshots the win:
Paul Lee's 3rd Quarter Run
To begin with, the Hotshots were already up 51-43 at the halftime as they outscored the Road Warriors, 30-18 in the first quarter alone. Then, with the Hotshots hanging to a single-digit lead, the boys of Chito Victolero went on an offensive onslaught in the third quarter that was led by none other than their star guard, Paul Lee who scored 12 of his 21 points in that decisive quarter which took away the life out of the Road Warriors when the Hotshots scored 34 points while limiting NLEX to only 25 points.
54 Points from the Bench
Sure, Kiefer Ravena had 31 points and Kevin Alas had 13 for the starting unit of the Road Warriors while JR Quinahan had 22 points while coming off the bench for Yeng Guiao but it was the bench of Victolero who did the better job of taking off some of the offensive load away from their starters as they scored 54 points. Rome dela Rosa had 14 points while veteran big man, Aldrech Ramos had 11 points. PJ Simon and Jio Jalalon had 9 points apiece. Now that's a balanced effort, folks.
If anything, it was the defensive work of the Hotshots that did the wonders for Magnolia against an offensive-minded team as the NLEX Road Warriors were limited to under 100 points for the second consecutive team. In addition to this, the Hotshots also limited NLEX to only 20% shooting from the three-point line who only made 5 of their 24 ATTEMPTS from deep.
This game proved one thing: no matter how great your numbers are, it's meaningless if you don't get the big W. And for the Magnolia Hotshots, this one was definitely a big win for them because according to Chito Victolero, having two straight wins to open 2018 sets the right mindset into their players that they can beat any team no matter what the odds are.
For NLEX, riding on a 2-game losing streak will mean more yells from Yeng Guiao especially during practices but the beauty of it, they can learn from this experience because now that the teams have cracked their weakness, they just need to overcome their horrible offensive performance during their last two games to score over 100 points but they will need more help because Kiefer Ravena can't lead them to wins every single time.