Semifinal sizzlers

Games today:
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:30 p.m. — TNT Tropang Giga vs Magnolia
6:30 p.m. — Meralco vs San Miguel Beer

Magnolia and Meralco bid to sustain their winning ways against separate rivals today in the best-of-seven Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup semifinal series at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

After retaliating the last time, the Hotshots and Bolts go for 2-1 leads.

Magnolia meets TNT Tropang Giga in the first game at 4:30 p.m. and Meralco faces San Miguel in the nightcap at 6:30 p.m.

Magnolia got the confidence it needed after thwarting the defending champions, 92-88, in a thrilling Game 2 showdown on Friday.

Mark Barroca led the squad down the stretch with 22 points and five rebounds, Ian Sangalang had 20 points and eight boards and Calvin Abueva delivered 18 markers and eight boards.

Hotshots head coach Chito Victolero was elated on how his wards held the fort against Mikey Williams and the Tropang Giga, but admitted that they have to come up with a better plan to take a crucial 2-1 advantage.

“We needed to go back to our defensive mindset, our defensive mentality. That’s the reason why we reached this far,” Victolero said.

“It’s all about team effort and team defense. We know we can’t stop Mikey, but we are eager to limit him.”

As Magnolia plans to control the tempo with its clamping defense, TNT tactician Chot Reyes is anticipating that things might get extra physical this time.

Down by as much as 19 points in the second half, Williams forged a late strike by firing 14 points in the final canto, giving the Hotshots a warning on what might be ahead of them.

Reyes emphasized that it’s now their turn to bounce back and cited the need for more fire and intensity to outhustle Magnolia in every possession.

“It’s going to be more of the same, really physical. It’s going to be a defensive grind,” Reyes said.

“We have to be able to counter and handle their defensive pressure so that means we need to take care of the ball. We don’t have the talent of the other teams so if we are beaten in the effort department, we have no chance,” he added.

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