Magnolia is keen to finish off Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX) in Game 6 of their best-of-seven semifinals battle and return to the finals of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Season 43 Philippine Cup today at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Hotshots crushed the Road Warriors in Game 6 last Sunday 87-78, for a 3-2 lead. Magnolia is setting its eyes on its 28th overall finals appearance since joining the league in 1988 when they face NLEX tonight.
“To be in the finals, you have to win four games in the semifinals and we only have won three games so far. So we have to play an all-out game tomorrow (Tuesday) because there is an opportunity for us to be in the finals,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero, who is now on his second year mentoring the Hotshots.
Magnolia never missed making it to the semifinals under Victolero since 2017. In last year’s Philippine Cup, the Hotshots, under Victolero’s tutelage, even challenged Ginebra with a 3-2 lead in the Philippine Cup semifinals.
But they lost twice to the Gin Kings. This time, Victolero is hell bent on towing Magnolia to the final.
“We’ve just got to have a proper mindset heading to tomorrow’s game. We just have to surpass NLEX’s energy and effort. It is going to be a grinding game for 48 minutes so we have to be ready and focus on that game,” added Victolero, noting that their experience is their biggest asset in Game 6.
Mark Barroca finished with 18 points and seven rebounds while Aldrech Ramos and Paul Lee had 15 points each in Game 5. Center Ian Sangalang posted 12 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and three blocks also in Game 5.
NLEX coach Yeng Guiao, meanwhile, is priming his Road Warriors to force a do-or-die Game 7 on Thursday even without the injured Kevin Alas.
Alas suffered a suspected anterior right cruciate ligament injury in the first quarter of Game 5 last Sunday.
Without Alas, rookie Kiefer Ravena, Juami Tiongson, Eman Monfort, Cyrus Baguio, Alex Mallari and Larry Fonacier are expected to double their effort in the absence of Alas in Game 6.