Photo by the PBA Media Bureau
As the Hotshots try to wrap things up in Game 6, Chito Victolero tells his boys to stay consistent
Will the Magnolia Hotshots finally break their semifinal slump and enter the PBA Finals for the first time since 2014?
That depends on how focused the Hotshots are heading into tonight Game 6 of their best-of-7 semifinal series between the Hotshots and the NLEX Road Warriors who will play without Kevin Alas who sustained what doctors initially fear is a season-ending ACL injury which the young guard sustained during the first 39 seconds of Game 5 which was won by Magnolia.
With a possible Finals date with the San Miguel Beermen almost at reach with a win tonight, Chito Victolero told his wards to remain focused on winning Game 6 if they want to make sure that Coach Yeng Guiao's goal of stretching the series to a Game 7 won't be accomplished by the Road Warriors who are expected to retaliate after getting a bad beat in the 4th quarter of Game 5 when NLEX only shot 6 for 22 from the field which is a far cry from their performance during the first three quarters when they shot 41% from the field.
One of the major things that Victolero wants his team to do tonight is to make sure that their effort on their defensive end of the court is consistent as it was during the endgame of Game 5 which helped extinguished every attempt by NLEX to come back. Sure, even Victolero admitted that Kevin Alas' absence in the final 3 quarters of Game 5 gaave Magnolia a slight advantage with one man less to worry about but if you are to beat NLEX in a 7-game series, you have to make sure that super rookie Kiefer Ravena will have a hard time scoring and setting the plays. In Game 5, Kiefer had 21 points on 7 for 13 shooting including 2 for 2 from the three-point line.
For tonight's Game 6, it's expected that Kiefer Ravena will now take a much-bigger role on the offense with Kevin Alas out. That's where the defensive tenacity of the Hotshots will be tested. Aside from the Phenom, the Hotshots also need to focus on shutting down the snipers of NLEX like Larry Fornacier, Alex Mallari and, Cyrus Baguio. In Game 5, NLEX was horrible from the three-point line, just making 5 of their 27 attempts from deep.
Conclusion: Experience of Magnolia will Prevail
Nothing beats experience and that experience in the semifinals is something that Magnolia can use to their advantage. After all, this is the same franchise who won the most recent Grand Slam in PBA history so this team is already filled with hunger to get their first Finals stint in 4 yearfs. They only need to do one thing tonight to achieve that: focus.