The Magnolia Hotshots are two wins away from booking a spot in the 2022 PBA Governors’ Cup finals after taking Game 1 of their semifinals series matchup against the Meralco Bolts. Will the Hotshots dig Meralco a deeper hole this Friday? Or will the Bolts even things up?
Catch this game live on Friday, March 25 at 6 pm, Manila time.
The Magnolia Hotshots (1-0)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Mark Barroca
- SG: Paul Lee
- SF: Calvin Abueva
- PF: Rome Dela Rosa
- C: Mike Harris
Magnolia showed it can win with its back against the wall when it rallied from a big deficit to take Game 1 of this semifinals matchup via a 94-80 win last Wednesday. The Hotshots, who were down by 17 points at one point of the contest, leaned on its collective effort, led by import Mike Harris, who paced his team with 26 points and 16 rebounds. He is simply showing that he’s the more effective import between him and Tony Bishop, who ghosted the Bolts in Game 1.
The three-headed backcourt monster of Magnolia also established its dominance, with Paul Lee, Mark Barroca, and Jio Jalalon dealing heavy damage on Meralco that didn’t have an answer to the trio. With Calvin Abueva in the mix, the Hotshots are making sure that the ball is going to move around in this series and the offense won’t stagnate, while at the same time managing to apply tremendous pressure defensively in the passing lanes and on the Bolts’ ballhandlers. In Game 1, Magnolia had 21 assists against only nine turnovers, while leaking out for 21 points off Meralco’s 16 errors. Meralco needs to adjust soon or else deal with another massive headache in Game 2.
The Meralco Bolts (0-1)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Chris Banchero
- SG: Chris Newsome
- SF: Allein Maliksi
- PF: Tony Bishop
- C: Raymond Almazan
The good thing for the Bolts is that this is a best-of-five series. Game 1 was important, but the series is far from over. The onus for Meralco in Game 2 is largely on the shoulders of Bishop, who struggled in Game 1, scoring just 10 points on 5/19 shooting that includes an atrocious 0/6 performance from behind the arc. Bishop did have 12 rebounds, but he’s got to be more efficient with his shots. That can be said as well about Allein Maliksi, who went just 3/11 from the field to finish with a measly output of seven points.
One bright spot the Bolts can build on heading to Game 2 was the productive showing of their bench. John Quinto came off the pine and scored 13 points, while Noy Baclao got six points in only seven minutes. They also won the rebounding battle, 54-47. Perhaps the key for the Bolts is for their peripheral pieces to start clicking early in order to make life easier for the top targets of Magnolia’s defense like Bishop and Maliksi and be more careful with the leather.
Spread: The Hotshots are smelling blood. They trailed big in the series opener but had the composure to still win the game. The Bolts had their chance. Magnolia isn’t going to let that happen again, at least in Game 2. Taking the Hotshots to win and cover (-3.5) this Friday.
Over/Under: Magnolia’s offense gets even better, but so is its defense after adjustments. Right now, the Hotshots just look to be the better team, and I’ll just have to believe they’ll dictate the pace. Taking the Under (194.5).