Two teams who are coming off losses over the weekend will each look to make a return in the win column this Tuesday, as the Magnolia Hotshots and the Meralco Bolts lock horns in the first game of a double-header. Catch this game live on October 20 at 4:00 PM, Manila time.
The Magnolia Hotshots (1-2)
The Hotshots are having a shaky start to the conference. They could have easily been 0-3 at this point if not for a come-from-behind win against the NLEX Road Warriors last week. They trailed by as much as 22 points in that game.
The Hotshots followed that up with an 87-81 loss to the Alaska Aces last Saturday. Mark Barroca led Magnolia with 14 points against the Aces, while Paul Lee had 14 points. However, Lee shot just 4-of-16 from the field and went 4-of-13 from deep. Lee’s salty shooting night weighed heavily on Magnolia, which was also surprisingly outrebounded by the Aces, 50-36.
While Lee is always going to be the Hotshots’ primary scorer, the Hotshots can’t just prioritize getting him hot over taking advantage of mismatches.
With Meralco big man Raymond Almazan seemingly still not 100% healthy, the Hotshots will have to assert themselves inside, with Ian Sanggalang, Rafi Reavis, and Jackson Corpuz carving space in the shaded area, while Lee and the other Magnolia guards try to attack the lane against Meralco’s defense that got outscored by 20 points in the paint in Sunday’s loss to the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
The Meralco Bolts (1-2)
The Bolts tripped over a live wire in the form of Ginebra on Sunday, as Meralco took a 105-91 loss. The Bolts were led by Allein Maliksi, who pumped out 18 points with four 3-pointers off the bench, while Reynel Hugnatan continued his surprising offensive production with 16 points to go with seven rebounds.
Hugnatan, who is about to turn 42 in November, is the second-leading scorer on the team this conference with 15.0 points per game, just behind Maliksi’s 15.3 PPG. That Hugnatan is being relied on this much on offense is puzzling, given the quality of talent on the team.
At some point, Baser Amer and Chris Newsome will have to take major scoring duties off the back of the elder Hugnatan, who is also leading the team with 11.67 field goal attempts per game.
Meralco’s younger playmakers will have to take its cues from Alaska’s win over Magnolia, where Jvee Casio and Jeron Teng took it upon themselves to carry the Aces.
The Hotshots will test Meralco’s rim protection by attacking the basket early to force it to experiment with zone defenses, but Magnolia’s Paul Lee makes the Bolts pay with his outside shooting. The Hotshots win, 94-88.