The Meralco Bolts are on the brink of elimination. Will the Magnolia Hotshots finish the series this Wednesday? Or, will the Bolts have enough charge to force a Game 6?
Catch this game live on October 13 at 3 PM, Manila time.
The Meralco Bolts (1-3)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: John Pinto
- SG: Chris Newsome
- SF: Mac Belo
- PF: John Quinto
- C: Reynel Hugnatan
There’s got to be something broken on a team that has lots of young scorers but was still led by 42-year-old Reynel Hugnatan in a playoff game. Hugnatan posted a nice stat line of 21 points, nine rebounds, and two assists in the Bolts’ 81-69 loss to Magnolia in Game 4. Meanwhile, Mac Belo and Allein Maliksi combined for five points on a 1-of-10 shooting. Granted that Hugnatan played 35 minutes while neither Belo nor Maliksi saw more than 17 minutes of action, the Bolts must have been left wanting a lot more from the two forwards.
With their season on the line, Meralco hopes that Game 5 will bring the best out of Belo and Maliksi. There’s also a chance that the Bolts will have Raymond Almazan back. Almazan missed the last two games with an ankle injury but is now considered questionable (from doubtful) to play in Game 5. Given what’s at stake, Almazan could be forced to play even if he’s not feeling 100%. It will also be very much welcome for Meralco if some of their role players step up again, just like in Game 3 when they got ample contributions from John Pinto and Noy Baclao.
The Magnolia Hotshots (3-1)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Jio Jalalon
- SG: Paul Lee
- SF: Rome dela Rosa
- PF: Calvin Abueva
- C: Ian Sangalang
This series is for the Hotshots to lose. After regaining momentum with a win in Game 4 Magnolia will look to end it all up this Wednesday. With the TNT-San Miguel series at least two games away from being decided, winning Game 5 for Magnolia means longer rest for the Finals. But the Hotshots can’t overlook Meralco, which caught them napping in Game 3. While Meralco is getting inconsistent numbers from its key players, the Hotshots don’t have such issues in the semis.
Paul Lee scored only nine points in Game 4, but Ian Sangalang, Calvin Abueva, and Mark Barroca each scored 17 points, while Jio Jalalon came off the bench and scored 10 points. Abueva and Sangalang also pulled down 12 and 11 rebounds, respectively. If Almazan ends up sitting out Game 5, Abueva and Sangalang should be licking their chops over the prospect of dominating again. But the real key for Magnolia is its defense that forced Meralco to commit 22 turnovers in Game 4 that were converted into 26 points by the Hotshots. Magnolia will look to be as sharp defensively, as they look to go for the kill in Game 5.
Spread: The Hotshots have learned their lesson after the loss in Game 3. Take the Hotshots to win straight up, but Meralco will put up a gallant stand, enough for the Bolts to cover (+3.5).
Over/Under: Defense will win the game here for Magnolia, just like in Game 4, when the total score was only 150. Take the Under (168.0).