The Meralco Bolts are not going away easily, as they scored a 91-86 win in Game 3 to cut the Magnolia Hotshots’ series lead in half. Will the Bolts even the series up with a win this Sunday? Or, will the Hotshots bounce back and get a commanding 3-1 series lead?
Catch this game live on October 10t 4:35 pm, Manila time.
The Meralco Bolts (1-2)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: John Pinto
- SG: Chris Newsome
- SF: Mac Belo
- PF: John Quinto
- C: Reynel Hugnatan
Meralco was not going to let itself fall in a 0-3 series hole, and the Bolts have a couple of role players to thank for their win in Game 3. John Pinto, who is averaging fewer than seven points per game, put up 16 points in Game 3 to go with five rebounds and two assists. Noy Baclao also stepped up by nailing 10 points on a 5-of-6 shooting.
With Raymond Almazan still unlikely to play in Game 4 due to a lower-body injury he sustained in Game 2, the Bolts will look to coax such performances again from Pinto and Baclao, but at the end of the day, Meralco will go as far as where the trio of Chris Newsome, Mac Belo, and Allein Maliksi takes them. Newsome led the Bolts in Game 3 with 17 points, while Belo and Maliksi had 14 and nine points, respectively. With their defensive anchor missing, the Bolts need to continue putting pressure on Magnolia with their offense just like in Game 3 when they shot 49 FG% and 41 3FG% (12/20).
The Magnolia Hotshots (2-1)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Jio Jalalon
- SG: Paul Lee
- SF: Rome dela Rosa
- PF: Calvin Abueva
- C: Ian Sangalang
Magnolia didn’t play especially badly in Game 3, but the Hotshots surely whiffed on a golden chance to put the Bolts in a virtually inescapable hole. Nevertheless, Magnolia will enter Game 4 knowing it will get another shot at a Raymond Almazan-less Bolts. In Game 3, the Hotshots were led by Paul Lee, who, despite a hurting shoulder, manufactured 18 points. Lee should be ready to go in Game 4 alongside Ian Sangalang and Calvin Abueva, who scored 15 and 12 points, respectively in the last game.
Without Almazan in the middle for Meralco, Abueva and Sangalang can continue to feast in the shaded area. With a target on the back of the Bolts’ defense, Magnolia attacked the paint in Game 3 and scored 50 paint points to just 26 by Meralco. Where the Hotshots lost was on the outside-shooting battle, with Meralco draining 12 threes, while Magnolia only had seven. Meralco, however, can regress to the mean right away as their 41 3FG% in Game 3 looks unsustainable given that it’s shooting only 31.09% from long range this conference.
Spread: Props to Pinto and Baclao for showing up and being the difference-makers for Meralco in Game 3, but it’s hard to count on them being as good again. Magnolia wins and covers (-4) in Game 4.
Over/Under: Meralco isn’t going to be as hot from the arc in this game as it did in Game 3. Take the Under (170).