Magnolia cuts SMB’s series-lead to 2-1 in PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals

MANILA, Philippines – Magnolia guaranteed fans a game 5 of 2023-2024 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals after tormenting San Miguel, 88-80, on Wednesday, February 7, 2024, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City.

Magnolia cuts SMB’s series-lead to 2-1
Magnolia relied on Mark Barocca’s hot-shooting night to give SMB its first loss of the series. Photo Credit: PBA

After a lopsided Game-2 win, San Miguel seemed to be complacent in Game 3 as Magnolia forced the Beermen to commit 3 quick turnovers and converted them into baskets for an early lead.

Hotshots’ lead was momentary as SMB fired back right away to cut Magnolia’s surge and prevent them from getting miles ahead.

Despite the seesaw battle between the sister teams, the locals controlled the game as the imports shrugged off the game-2 jitters.

Aside from scoring, Magnolia’s defense was noticeable in tonight’s game as the Hotshots contained both June Mar Fajardo and Bennie Boatwright Jr. inside the paint.

Mo Tautuaa and Calvin Abueva who both figured out in a verbal altercation with their spouses checked in with under 4 minutes remaining in the opener.

“The Beast’s” entry however was welcomed with boos from SMB fans as the bruiser was also spotted mocking Coach Jorge Gallent’s physical disability in the previous encounter.

Magnolia’s defensive intensity paid off as the Hotshots wrapped up the first quarter with a 24-15 advantage.

Though at the helm, Magnolia started the 2nd period without Tyler Bey as the reinforcement sustained a cut in the lip due to a friendly fire from James Laput.

As the Beermen struggled offensively, Coach Gallent sent Jerone Teng and Don Trollano in to maneuver the team while waiting for their import to heat up. The duo made some significant baskets to trim Magnolia’s lead.

After so many attempts from the outside, Boatwright Jr. finally made one followed by Fajardo’s aggression under the basket.

San Miguel’s scoring run in the second was indeed commendable. Despite the catch up, Magnolia remained on top, 42-39 entering the 2nd half.

Mark Barocca opened the 3rd quarter with a floater from the middle. Interestingly, it was “Coffee Prince’s” tear drop shots that kept Magnolia in the lead from the first.

Back where it all began. Magnolia stuck with its game plan to pressure SMB in all angles of the floor that resulted in another sizable advantage in the making.

Ian Sangalang might be quiet offensively, but the former San Sebastian Stag did a great job in defending against Boatwright Jr. and Fajardo in the shaded lane.

As Hotshots’ lead began to swell anew, San Miguel once again relied on Teng to lead the trailing who by far had the best game since donning the SMB jersey. The former archer already had 10 with one more quarter to go.

The Beermen headed to the charity stripes a handful of times to narrow Hotshots’ numbers to 63-58 entering the final canto.

What a way to start the final chapter for SMB. CJ Perez who led his team all throughout the game posterized Jio Jalalon with a one-hand throwdown and-one.

Both squads started the 4th quarter with all local players while the imports who obviously had offnights took a breather.

Speaking of offnight, sad to see that Bey only had 9 points while Boatwright Jr. had 14 coming to the 4th period.

Even though Magnolia’s import had a hard time filling up his stats sheet, the locals continued to step up. Aris Dionisio led his team this time from beyond the arc for a double-digit lead.

Not only was it Dionisio who connected from the three point line, Paul Lee joined the party to ramp up their advantage to almost 20 points.

Aside from Boatwright Jr., Marcio Lassiter was also missing in tonight’s game. Lassiter, who was an x factor in SMB’s previous games, just recorded 4 points.

With just seconds left in the ball game and a convincing lead, Magnolia began to melt the clock until the final horn sounded for an 80-88 victory and 1-2 series disadvantage.

Magnolia might have taken this game from SMB but Coach Chito Victolero and his gang expect a recalibrated Beermen come Friday, February 9, 2024.

— Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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