There’s no letting up in defending champion San Miguel Beer and title contender Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok in their preparations for Game 3 of their best-of-seven titular series for the PBA Philippine Cup.
Two days following their 92-77 conquest of the Hotshots in Game 2 last Sunday that equalized the playoff 1-1 and relegated the series to a best-of-five, and despite the Holy Week, the Beermen, in fact, have buckled down to work, starting Holy Wednesday in order, according to coach Leo Austria, maintain his boys’ competitive form.
The Hotshots surprised the favored Beermen, 103-105, two days earlier to take temporary command of the series.
“We need to maintain the momentum of our victory in Game 2, kaya kahit na Holy Week, tuloy ang ensayo,” Austria told The Manila Times in a telephone interview Wednesday. “Mahirap na baka mawala competitive form ng mga bata.”
SMB team captain Arwind Santos agreed, saying, “Tama si coach, mahirap nang ma-recover ang momentum. Ilang araw na lang Game 3 na kaya kailangan talaga ensayo. Very light lang naman an binigay na routine ni coach.”
Workout will resume Maundy Thursday with a one-day break on Good Friday, according to Austria. “Kailangan din namang mag-observe kami ng Good Friday at mag-reflect. Baka naman magalit ‘Yung nasa itaas na nagbibigay sa atin ng blessings. Kung maari nga mag-prusisyon pa kami eh.”
The Beerrmen go back to work on Black Saturday, eve of Game 3 on Sunday, the coach added. “It’s work … work … work for us.
“Eight players ko, nag-a-average ng at least 38 minutes per game, so we will be having ample time to recharge and strengthen, especially Chris Ross,” Austria said.
Magnolia coach Chito Victolero, on the other hand, gave his Hotshots a two-day reprieve Holy Monday and Holy Tuesday before calling his charges to practice on Holy Wednesday.
Unlike the Beermen, the Hotshots will have no Good Friday break and will be sweating it out three straight days until Black Saturday.
Kailangan eh,” Victolero said. “Medyo dikit kasi sa Sunday so wala kaming magagawa. We still need to practice on Good Friday.”
The Magnolia mentor, who is in his first finals appearance as a coach, welcomed though the short break following after a tedious semifinal schedule where they had been playing every other day for three weeks.
“Magandang dahil nakapahinga mga bata,” Victolero said. “Kalimutan muna basketball. Maganda rin break ‘yun pati sa San Miguel. At least mga player kahit papaano makapahinga para lumabas uli laro nila.”
Magnolia is looking for a solution to the Hotshots tendency to be left behind in the early going, which had been the pattern in Games 1 and 2.
“Kailangan hindi na kami maunahan. Kami na dapat ang mauna,” point guard Mark Barroca observed. “Yun ang dapat naming alamin bago ang Game 3, kung paano kami makakauna,” Barroca said.