Game 3 of the 2023-2024 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals was by far the San Miguel Beermen’s worst game, but by all accounts, the Magnolia Hotshots won this game through their own efforts. 

The shots weren’t falling for SMB and the Hotshots were clearly taking Bennie Boatwright Jr. out of the equation. He rarely got the ball and when he did, it didn’t end well. 

Not only was Boatwright Jr. misfiring, but he was also Magnolia’s prime target on defense. Whether he was pushed around or caught flat footed on defense, the Hotshots were feasting. Through three quarters, the former USC Trojan was clearly gassed and Magnolia was smelling blood. 

San Miguel only trailed by five points entering the fourth quarter, but the Hotshots’ gameplan of persistently playing through the likes of Mark Barroca and Jio Jalalon proved to be effective as Magnolia negated every Beermen rally and broke the game open in the final period. 

The Hotshots’ 88-80 victory over SMB shifted the vibe of the series from lopsided to wait-a-minute. Boatwright Jr. was clearly out of his element and his teammates “adjusted” by chucking up shots and committing to wild drives to the basket. Magnolia can tie the series on Friday and effectively snatch momentum from San Miguel. 

All things considered, credit must be given to the Hotshots, not only for avoiding any controversy, but also for taking a different approach in order to get a win in Game 3. 


Tyler Bey has been a consistent scorer for Magnolia, but in Game 3, his biggest contributions were on the defensive end. He took on the defensive assignment of covering Boatwright Jr. and Bey made Boatwright Jr. work for every touch on offense. Forcing Boatwright Jr. into most of his 18 misses (on 28 attempts) was worth more than the points he scored or the rebounds he grabbed. 

In fact, Bey’s 11-point, six-rebound, and 3-assist effort was his worst game, but it was the price he had to pay to limit his counterpart on the other end. In any case, Bey’s teammates gladly stepped up on offense. 

Key as well for the Hotshots was the constant movement on both ends of the floor. They were constantly going after the ball, tipping passes and getting the Beermen out of position. As a result, SMB had 20 turnovers and only made 34 percent of their 82 field goal attempts. 

San Miguel could enter Game 3 with a level of frustration that will see them become more aggressive and that could work in Magnolia’s favor as long as they keep their emotions in check. Calvin Abueva drew controversy in Game 2 with his below-the-belt antics both on and off the court, but he was relatively tame in Game 3. Perhaps that’s what happens when you get docked PhP 100,000. 

The Magnolia Hotshots got themselves back in the 2023-2024 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals with a crucial victory in Game 3 by making some changes to how they ran things. It took many by surprise (especially the San Miguel Beermen), but at the end of the day, the Hotshots made the kind of plays that could define championship teams.