The Magnolia Hotshots have a commanding 2-0 lead in their semifinals series against the Meralco Bolts.
Catch this game live on October 8 at 3 pm, Manila time.
The Meralco Bolts (0-2)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: John Pinto
- SG: Chris Newsome
- SF: Mac Belo
- PF: John Quinto
- C: Raymar Jose
It was one black eye after another for the Bolts in Game 2. Not only did they lose to Magnolia, 92-78, but they likely have also lost big man Raymond Almazan for at least one game. Almazan suffered an ankle injury in Game 2 that took him out of the contest after playing just 17 minutes. He should definitely be missed by Meralco, as his shot-blocking prowess and rebounding have been crucial for Bolts this season.
With Almazan ruled out of Game 3, Meralco will have a committee approach at center, with Reynel Hugnatan, Noy Baclao, and Raymar Jose. Hugnatan continues to produce way better than he should at his age, coming up with 12 points on the strength of 7-of-9 shooting from the free throw line in Game 2. Meralco was actually 27-of-36 from the charity stripe in Game 2, which was surprising because it was Magnolia, which was supposed to get a ton more chances from the foul line based on their season averages. But the aggressiveness of Hugnatan, Chris Newsome, and Mac Belo provided plenty of freebies for the Bolts.
Newsome led the team with 18 points, but Belo and Maliksi only had 14 points together. Belo went 5-of-6 from the free throw line, but was just 1-of-7 from the field. He needs to be better, considering he’s among Meralco’s primary options on offense.
The Magnolia Hotshots (2-0)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Jio Jalalon
- SG: Paul Lee
- SF: Rome dela Rosa
- PF: Calvin Abueva
- C: Ian Sangalang
Paul Lee turned up the heat in Game 2 and toyed with Meralco’s defense to come away with a 28-point performance. Lee scored 17 points in the series opener and showed no slowing down in the subsequent contest just like Calvin Abueva, who continues to cripple the Bolts on both ends of the floor. In Game 2, Abueva scored 11 points to go with 11 rebounds and three assists. He was a +19 in the game. The Hotshots’ reserves are stepping up as well.
Justin Melton and Jio Jalalon combined for only eight points but were +50 combined at the end of the contest. With Almazan likely sidelined for Game 3, Lee and company should light it up in the shaded area again. Magnolia scored 44 points in the paint in Game 2 to just 22 by Meralco. The Hotshots also ruled the glass in that game with 53 rebounds, while the Bolts grabbed just 39.
It’s not just on offense that the Hotshots are dominating Meralco, as their defense is also suffocating the Bolts. Magnolia held Meralco down to only 35.4 FG% and 20% 3FG in Game 2 while also recording 10 steals.
Spread: The stars are aligning for another win for the Hotshots, but now could be the best time to fade the public and ride on a Meralco cover (+3.5).
Over/Under: Belo, Maliksi, and Newsome will put together a solid production, while Magnolia takes advantage of Meralco’s slim frontcourt. Take the Over (168.0)