The Meralco Bolts made sure that Friday will have two PBA games after scoring a life-extending win in Game 5 of their 2021 PBA Philippine Cup semifinals series against the Magnolia Hotshots. Will the Bolts force a Game 7? Or, will the Hotshots capitalize on their break point and send Meralco packing?
Catch this game live on October 15 at 6 PM, Manila time.
The Meralco Bolts (2-3)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: John Pinto
- SG: Chris Newsome
- SF: Mac Belo
- PF: John Quinto
- C: Raymond Almazan
The Bolts managed to fight for at least another game in the semifinals, thanks in large part to Allein Maliksi finally going off for 29 points in Meralco’s 102-98 win in Game 5 over the Hotshots. Maliksi sputtered in Game 4 with just two points but rebounded in a big way, as Norman Black trusted him with a starting gig and over 36 minutes of playing time. The hope for Meralco is that Mac Belo will follow suit and break out of his slump.
Belo went 0-of-6 from the field in Game 4 and was 1-of-8 in Game 5. Fortunately for Meralco, John Pinto stepped up again just like he did in Game 3, as he poured in 24 points. Pinto’s Game 3 performance might not be a fluke after all. He’s starting to be a serious threat to Magnolia, which will have to keep a close eye on him and that could come at the expense of loosening focus on the likes of Maliksi and Chris Newsome (23 points in Game 5). It’s also great for Meralco that Raymond Almazan is back. The big man returned to action after missing two games due to an ankle injury and scored nine points to go with 19 rebounds and a block in 31 minutes in Game 5.
The Magnolia Hotshots (3-2)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Jio Jalalon
- SG: Paul Lee
- SF: Rome dela Rosa
- PF: Calvin Abueva
- C: Ian Sangalang
The Hotshots scored nearly 100 points in Game 5 but just lost to a hotter team, with the Bolts draining a total of 11 threes, 10 of which came from Pinto and Maliksi. The question for Meralco is whether it can sustain that kind of offense. The Bolts entered Game 5 with an average of just 79.25 points in the series, so their offensive explosion on Wednesday could just be more of an anomaly than a sign of better things to come.
Mark Barroca led the Hotshots in Game 5 with 25 points, but Magnolia got double-digit performances as well from its usual suspects. Calvin Abueva had 19, Ian Sangalang 15, and Paul Lee 13. The Hotshots still had their way against Meralco, and that’s a great takeaway for them despite the loss. Magnolia scored 42 points in the paint to Meralco’s 34 even though Almazan is back. The game came down to Maliksi catching fire, and given his erratic nature, there’s reason to believe that he won’t be as accurate with his shot in Game 6.
Spread: Meralco got the win and the cover in Game 5, but Magnolia’s not going to get beat two games in a row with series-clinching scenarios. The Bolts will also cool down from deep. Take the Hotshots to cover the spread (-4.5).
Over/Under: The Bolts regress closer to the mean on offense, which helps the Under. Take the Under (171.5).