The Magnolia Hotshots took a 1-0 series lead in their semifinals matchup against the Meralco Bolts by winning Game 1, 88-79. Will the Bolts even it all up with a win in Game 2? Or, will the Hotshots take a commanding 2-0 series lead?

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

The Meralco Bolts (0-1)

Projected Starting Five:

  • PG: John Pinto
  • SG: Chris Newsome
  • SF: Mac Belo
  • PF: John Quinto
  • C: Raymond Almazan

Meralco missed on a great opportunity to draw first blood in the series against the Hotshots. The Bolts had a six-point lead with around 10 minutes left to play in regulation but ultimately squandered that cushion after getting outscored in the fourth quarter by 12 points. Chris Newsom scored just eight points on 3-of-7 shooting, perhaps because he’s still feeling fatigued after playing over 40 minutes in the previous game against the NLEX Road Warriors in the quarterfinals. 

Now with over two full days of rest, Newsome should be able to put up a better effort in Game 2, but the Bolts also need Allein Maliksi to get more involved. Maliksi took just three field-goal attempts and finished with three points in 18 minutes. Reynel Hugnatan had 10 points on 14 shots from the field. Between the two, it should be Maliksi who’s getting more shots. Raymond Almazan also needs help inside in order to stave off the trio of Ian Sanggalang, Rafi Reavis, and Calvin Abueva. Almazan only grabbed three rebounds in Game 1, but swatted away four shots and was the only Meralco starter with a positive plus/minus (4). 


The Magnolia Hotshots (1-0)

Projected Starting Five:

  • PG: Jio Jalalon
  • SG: Paul Lee
  • SF: Rome dela Rosa
  • PF: Calvin Abueva
  • C: Ian Sangalang

Life is a whole lot easier when your team has Abueva. That’s a luxury the Hotshots are enjoying ever since they acquired The Beast, who scored eight of his 13 points in the fourth quarter, while also pulling down seven rebounds in 20 minutes of play. Abueva did all that despite being held back by foul trouble. With better foul management in Game 2, Abueva should be a bigger problem for the Bolts, whose lack of discipline on defense also cost them the game. Magnolia went 19-of-24 from the free throw line, while Meralco was only 6-of-11 from the charity stripe. 

Magnolia is second in the league this conference with a 31.06 FTAr, which pairs up nicely with the fact that Meralco has the highest defensive FTAr (29.85). Sanggalang led the Hotshots in Game 1 with 18 points to go with eight rebounds, while Reavis showed that Hugnatan isn’t the only manong capable of making a significant impact on the series. Reavis chipped in nine points with 10 boards and also shot 5-of-8 from the foul line in the series opener. Seeing a 44-year-old vet lay it all out must be so inspiring for the Hotshots, who will once again rely for freebies at the expense of Meralco’s seemingly lazy defense.


Spread: Expect more of Abueva in Game 2. That’s trouble for Meralco’s defense that already has its hands full in dealing with Sanggalang and Paul Lee. Take the Hotshots to win and cover (-2).

Over/Under: Magnolia’s rebounding will once again dictate the flow of the game according to what suits the Hotshots, who have the fifth-lowest pace among all teams this conference. Take the Under  (169.5).