Photo by the PBA Media Bureau
Melton needs to rest his hamstring injury which he sustained during the semis
In case you were wondering where Justin Melton was in Game 2 and Game 3 when the Magnolia Hotshots were dominated by the San Miguel Beermen, wonder no more because he wasn't on the court in both games. And he won't be back anytime soon.
Although he played in Game 1 of the best-of-7 series against the Beermen, Justin Melton has been ruled out for the rest of the Philippine Cup finals as he needs to rest his hamstring injury which he suffered during their semifinal series against the NLEX Road Warriors which Magnolia won in 6 games. According to Head Coach Chito Victolero, Melton will be out 3 to 4 weeks and will miss the first few games of Magnolia during the mid-season Commissioner's Cup.
Another Injury Woe for Magnolia
To begin with, the Hotshots were already playing without Marc Pingris who suffered a season-ending injury in Game 1 of the semifinals and now, Melton. And just like Pingris, Melton's absence has been hugely felt by the Hotshots as Magnolia has already had difficulties in containing the backcourt duo of Alex Cabagnot and Chris Ross especially in Game 2. According to Chito Victolero, one of the reasons why Melton has been an important member of his guard rotation was the fact that Melton has been one of Victolero's best perimeter defenders in the guard position so it's definitely a big blow for Magnolia.
In addition to this, Justin Melton also played for the Hotshots, then known as the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers under Coach Tim Cone that won the Grand Slam back in 2014 so his championship experience will be missed in this series. Melton's absence would mean more effort is needed out of the rest of Magnolia's guards like Mark Barroca, Paul Lee and Jio Jalalon. In Game 3, Barroca led the way with 22 points while Paul Lee added 15 points. But Jalalon was vastly missing offensively, only scoring 6 points on horrible 2 for 11 field goal shooting. If Magnolia wants to stay alive in this series, they will move from Jalalon.
While there's no denying that Justin Melton's injury is a big blow for Magnolia's championship aspiration, this will also mean more minutes for Jio Jalalon and the rest of the young guards of Magnolia to step up and prove their worths. And, they will need more consistency from their veterans like Barroca, Lee and PJ Simon.