(Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
In the absence of energy bunny Pingris, the Hotshots rely on willpower to move forward
Regardless of which team you are rooting for, it surely broke your hearts after seeing Marc Pingris fell to the floor and began yelling in pain as he forcibly twisted his knee while driving towards the basket. This scenario happened during the series opener of the best-of-7 semifinal series between the Magnolia Hotshots and the NLEX Road Warriors- a game which the Road Warriors. In fact, the Hotshots came within a point after Paul Lee drained a late trey. Then, the Hotshots went on to win the next two games which put them two wins away from entering the Finals, finally.
Marc Pingris, who is expected to miss the entire 43rd season of the PBA, may not be as effective as he used to be during their championship-winning seasons but there's no denying the fact that he will always and forever be the heart of the Purefoods franchise owing to him being the energizer bunny of the team. And that "heart" is one of the reasons why the Hotshots were able to come back into this series which is sets to play their Game 4 tomorrow.
Heart. Stronger heart to go on with the series in spite of the horrible injury that struck their beloved big man. Stronger heart to fight for their lives in this series against an NLEX team that has been bannered by the super rookie, Kiefer Ravena who has been doing wonders for his team, all conference long.
Despite the obvious presence of talent and the aggressiveness that Ravena and Kevin Alas have been displaying on the court, it was the heart of the Hotshots, including Jio Jalalon and Ian Sangalang that proved to be more powerful on top of Paul Lee's "reawakening" in Game 2 which kick-started Magnolia comeback.
But, there's one thing that almost everyone is forgetting: this is the first time that NLEX has made it to the semifinal round so that's something that can be associated with the Road Warriors' inexperience that doomed them in Games 2 and 3.
In fact, NLEX was already lucky that they were able to escape the series opener given the closeness of the final score. In aiming to bury NLEX into a commanding 3-1 series deficit, we can expect Chito Victolero's boys to rely on their veterans such as Ian Sangalang, Rafi Reavis, Peter June Simon and Justin Melton- not to mention, Mark Barrocca, to lead them because these are the guys who have been with the franchise for the longest time and yes, they belonged to the last team that won the latest Grand Slam under Coach Tim Cone so there's no question that these guys already have enough experience in terms of playing under the brightest lights.
One thing is certain: Magnolia is not down despite losing Pingris for the rest of the season. In fact, Pingris' absence may have been a blessing in disguise it allowed Sangalang and Jalalon to flourish furthermore and should both Sangalang and Jalalon continue to play well starting tomorrow's Game 4, there might be a chance that Magnolia will finally end their semifinal slump.