Magnolia wants to stretch its lead against Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX) to a commanding 3-1 as they clash at 7 p.m. tonight in Game 4 of the best-of-seven semifinals of the Philippine Basketball Association Season 43 Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
“I think this is a dogfight,” said Hotshots coach Chito Victolero, who will be depending anew on Game 3 heroes Jio Jalalon and Ian Sangalang. “I think this is the game that NLEX can’t afford to lose because it is very hard to get up from a 1-3 deficit. For our part, we just need to sustain what we’re doing right and match the effort and intensity of NLEX.”
The Hotshots lost to the Road Warriors in Game 1 (87-88) but won Game 2 (99-84) and Game 3 (106-99) through Sangalang who is averaging 21 points and eight rebounds in the last three games of the semifinals.
Sangalang and veteran big man Rafi Reavis took charge in the absence of Jean Marc Pingris who’s nursing a left anterior cruciate ligament injury, which he suffered in Game 1. Justin Melton, who has a strained hamstring is still doubtful if he can return to the series on time.
Jalalon led Magnolia in Game 3 with 25 points, taking up the role of the injured guard Melton.
“Our goal is really to prolong the series. So on Friday, it is a must win for us and I feel it is a crucial game. Every win for us prolongs the series, and I think we’ll take our chances in a long series,” said NLEX coach Yeng Guiao. “We just lost in breaks in Game 3.”
Rookie Kiefer Ravena, who had a 20-point output in Game 3, is expected to deliver again in Game 4 with the support of Kevin Alas, Jay-R Quinahan and Alex Mallari.