Stopping the Beermen doesn't stop at stopping June Mar Fajardo (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
After taking Game 1, Chito Victolero still at a loss in the SMB puzzle
Many teams have made the mistake that when they were able to limit June Mar Fajardo's production, they would be able to beat the 4-peat seeking San Miguel Beermen. Nope. June Mar Fajardo is just a part of a much stronger San Miguel team and stopping him won't do the trick, alone.
Just ask Magnolia Head Coach Chito Victolero. He hasn't solved the SMB puzzle and his team is down 2-1 against the defending champions heading to tonight's Game 4.
After winning Game 1, the Magnolia Hotshots have dropped the next two games of the best-of-7 championship series- both were blowout losses.
While Chito Victolero deserves some praises for bringing the undermanned Hotshots back to the Finals, his failure to outsmart San Miguel Head Coach Leo Austria is one of the reasons why the Beermen are 2 wins away from accomplishing a 4-peat. And recently, he admitted that the SMB puzzle is a puzzle that he has yet to solve, at least in the Finals.
SMB's bench stepped up
According to Victolero, one of the things that surprised him was the fact that San Miguel's bench stepped up tremendously after only scoring a single point in the series opener. In Game 3 alone, the bench of the Beermen combined for 33 points, led by Brian Heruela's 11 points. Victolero also added that his bench faltered especially in the 4th quarter even with June Mar Fajardo resting on the bench. Sure, June Mar Fajardo only took 13 shots, making 7 of them for his 21 points but limiting Fajardo didn't help Magnolia, at all. And what was disappointing for Magnolia was the fact that Ian Sangalang is still missing in action offensively after leading the Hotshots in scoring back in Game 1. In Game 3, Sangalang only had 6 points on 2 for 10 shooting while coming off the bench.
Game 3 showed how challenging is to defeat the Beermen. And if Chito Victolero comes to Game 4 with no answers to the Beermen, then this series may be over by Friday- as predicted by many.