A rematch of the semifinals matchup in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup is on tap this Wednesday, as the Magnolia Hotshots and the Meralco Bolts square off in what should be a thrilling showdown. Which side are you picking to win?

Catch this game live on March 2 at 6 pm, Manila time.

The Meralco Bolts (6-2)

Projected Starting Five:

  • PG: Aaron Black
  • SG: Chris Newsome
  • SF: Allein Maliksi
  • PF: Tony Bishop
  • C: Raymond Almazan

The Bolts are coming off a gut-wrenching 93-92 loss to the Alaska Aces last Saturday in Antipolo, but remain second in the standings of the 2022 PBA Governors’ Cup. The loss wasted a big game from Allein Maliksi, who dropped 32 points on 12/18 shooting, while import Tony Bishop had 18 points and 13 rebounds. Bishop can be somewhat inefficient on offense just like in the Alaska game in which he went 8/23, but Meralco’s not going to put a cap on his attempts. 

For one, the Bolts are so good at getting extra possessions off offensive rebounds. The Bolts are No. 1 this conference with a 31.4 ORB%. They are also decent defensively, as Norman Black’s men currently rank fourth in defensive rating, with 109.8 points allowed per 100 possessions. Not many teams can slow down Magnolia’s offense, but the Bolts appear to have what it takes to do just that. Outside of Bishop and Maliksi, the Bolts are looking for Chris Newsome to produce on both ends of the floor. Newsome scored nine points to go with five rebounds, four assists, and a steal against Alaska.


The Magnolia Hotshots (7-1)

Projected Starting Five:

  • PG: Mark Barroca
  • SG: Paul Lee
  • SF: Adrian Wong
  • PF: Mike Harris
  • C: Ian Sangalang

After getting upset by the NorthPort Batang Pier in a 103-101 loss, Magnolia responded right back with a resounding 104-87 victory over the San Miguel Beermen last Sunday. The Hotshots were simply not going to let themselves lose back to back, with Paul Lee carrying the team on his back. Lee fired 25 points on 9/16 shooting including four 3-pointers. Magnolia import Mike Harris played 41 minutes and came up with 26 points (9/18 FG) with 13 rebounds. 

Harris has been fitting nicely with the Magnolia locals. He’s not demanding the ball as much as the other imports. Unlike Bishop, Harris’ shot attempts are limited, but he’s a whole lot more efficient, as he’s making over 53% of this field-goal attempts. His style of play allows for the Hotshots locals to still flourish on the floor. Magnolia, which is second in the league this conference in scoring with 107.0 points per game, is fourth in bench scoring (35.25 PPG). That doesn’t sound great for Meralco, which is second-worst in bench production with just 25.13 PPG. 


Spread: Magnolia (-1) takes down the Bolts and covers the spread, thanks to their deeper bench and Mike Harris’ unselfish and effective play.

Over/Under: Both teams are top five in TS% and ORtg. Taking the Over 194 here.