Photo by the PBA Media Bureau
With the PBA on a Holy Week break, both San Miguel and Magnolia should be ready for Game 3 on Easter Sunday
Game 1 of the best-of-7 Philippine Cup Finals series saw the starters of the San Miguel Beermen score 102 points and yet, they lost to the Magnolia Hotshots, 105-103. In Game 2, the Beermen made sure that there won't be another meltdown as they retained their composure when the Hotshots cut a double-digit lead to single digit in the 3rd quarter. The result: a 92-77 victory for the Beermen and the series is tied at 1-1 heading into Game 3 this Easter Sunday.
With Holy Week break, both squads can use the downtime to rest up and prepare for another round of banging and running. They can also use these times to reflect on the things that went wrong for them in Game 2. After all, Holy Week is about reflecting and redeeming one's self, right?
For Magnolia, Game 3 will give them a chance to redeem themselves after a horrible defensive effort in Game 2.
For San Miguel, Game 3 will give them the chance to redeem themselves after an inconsistent effort especially from the guys off the bench in the first two games of the series and also, to resurrect the dominant San Miguel Beermen team that the league has been fearing for so long.
Heading into Game 3, what are the things that both teams need to do to get the important win?
Dominate early on. As much as possible, you don't want to give Magnolia the confidence that they can come back from a double-digit deficit which they did back in Game 1 and almost did in Game 2. June Mar Fajardo must impose his strength especially against the big men of the Hotshots. If needed, demand double-teams to open up the lanes for San Miguel's slashers or leave the door open for the three-point shooters to drop their long bombs. Another thing that Leo Austria will need to work on for Game 3 is to get more production from his guys off the bench like they did in Game 2. Guys like Brian Heruela, Billy Mamaril, Matt Ganuelas-Rosser, and even Gabby Espinas MUST be able to provide the needed reinforcement especially when the starters are resting.
Most importantly, San Miguel must not lose their composure and allow Magnolia to cut a double-digit deficit because we all know that the Hotshots are capable of doing so.
For the Hotshots, it's really simple, and not. First things first, contain Fajardo like they did during the first half of Game 2. But never settle by stopping Fajardo because San Miguel is one team who is loaded with more firepower than you know it. Defense is key for the Hotshots in this series.
Also, guys like Ian Sangalang who scored 29 points in the series opener, and Paul Lee must find a way to work their way around the stiffening defense of the Beermen if they are to make a series out of this one. Paul Lee, for one, went 5 for 13 from the field in Game 2, an improvement from his 2 for 13 shooting in Game 1. If anything, consistency plays an important role for Magnolia if they are to dethrone the defending champions. And that consistency SHOULD come from the veterans.
Prediction: San Miguel will win Game 3
With the long break, it also allows Chris Ross to heal up quickly and hopefully, he'll be 100% healthy and ready for Game 3 and that will be an additional headache for Chito Victolero and the rest of the Hotshots. If that happens, San Miguel may be able to finally unleash their dominant selves in Game 3 to take a 2-1 series lead.