Magnolia Hotshots can Contend Provided that they Remain Healthy

Magnolia Hotshots
(Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
Injury problems to a specific player can be amended as long as the rest of the team steps up for the injured player. But injury problems to multiple players? That’s a different story. No matter how good your coach and/or your team is, if your is not physically fit to play on the court, you will definitely struggle even against bad teams. 
And over the past conferences, that has been the problem with the Magnolia Hotshots. In fact, they were consistent on being on the semifinals only to be hit by injury to star players like Paul Lee and Marc Pingris. Paul Lee, for one, missed the latter parts of their Governors’ Cup semifinal series against the Meralco Bolts who swept the Hotshots in 3 games.
After dropping their Christmas Day game against the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings, the Magnolia Hotshots have been on the surge, winning 3 straight games, the last one being a 97-91 come-from-behind-win over the Phoenix Fuel Masters. That game saw the Hotshots erase a 5-point deficit in the final 3 minutes of the 4th quarter through the combined efforts of Marc Pingris, Ian Sangalang, Paul Lee and Rafi Reavis.

More Healthy Players = Higher Chances of Winning

While there’s no denying the fact that the Magnolia Hotshots have one of the oldest cores in the PBA, they are still among the few teams this conference who have both the talent and the experience to take down the defending Philippine Cup champions, the San Miguel Beermen. They just need to do one thing to remain competitive and hopefully end their semifinal slumps: stay away from injuries especially during the latter part of the conference.  
Why?
With the PBA now allowing a higher amount of physicality during games, we can expect more bodies banging against each other plus a few bodies flying onto the court. While it’s good and fun for the fans to see the league allowing more bangings between players, these are exactly the things that the Hotshots should be careful about because one bad fall could hurt not just a player but the conference of the team. 

Conclusion

With the Hotshots scheduled to face the Talk N Text KaTropa this coming Saturday, Chito Victolero can only hope and pray that none of his players will get not just during their next game but for the rest of the PBA’s 43rd season because no coach enjoys seeing his players not being able to play due to injury. 

Magnolia was Indeed Careful against Kia- Hotshots Rout Picanto by 47

(Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

A big 2nd half enabled the Hotshots to get win #2 in Philippine Cup

Heading into yesterday’s game, Chito Victolero has said that he was aiming to be careful against the Kia Picanto, even saying that the Picanto has a new coach in Ricky Dandan and has a new system which, according to Victolero himself, what makes the Picanto a dangerous team and if they weren’t careful, the Magnolia Hotshots would have gained the horrors of becoming the first team to lose to Kia this conference.
Fortunately, the Hotshots got their coach’s message, loud and clear as Magnolia made sure that Kia was nowhere near upsetting them by cruising to a 124-77 victory- the biggest winning margin so far this season.
And here’s how the Hotshots did it:

Big 2nd Half

To give credit to Ricky Dandan and his players, the Kia Picanto actually tied the score at 22 apiece at the end of the first quarter and even outscored Magnolia, 27-25 in the second quarter.
Then, things went south for the Picanto come the third quarter as Magnolia erupted for 34 points while limiting Kia to only 11 of their own. Things didn’t get better in the fourth quarter as the Hotshots continued to pound on the points, totaling 43 points while limiting the Picanto to 17 points. When you’re that careful against a winless team, you don’t stop scoring until the final buzzer and that’s what Magnolia did. 

91 Points from Magnolia’s Bench. Alone

The bench players of Chito Victolero actually outscored the ENTIRE Kia Picanto team, 91-77. In a game where Paul Lee only had 13 points while Mark Barroca had 4 points, Justin Melton led the way with 23 points while making 5 of his 6 attempts from the three-point line. Ian Sangalang added 21 points and 9 rebounds. Rookie Robert Herndon had 14 points to go along with 7 rebounds while Jio Jalalon, who made his season debut, had 11 points. 

A Good Game Overall for Magnolia

If anything, Magnolia’s dominating victory against a still winless team can be enough proof that the Hotshots are a better team now than they were during the previous teams. They shot better from the field, making 47% of their shots including a 40% outing from the three-point line. Defensively, the Hotshots stole the ball, 10 times, forced Kia to commit 25 turnovers while converting those turnovers into 37 points. They also outscored the Picanto, 30-5 in points off fast break opportunities. 

Conclusion

Although it’s only one game and it was against a winless team, teams will definitely look at Magnolia’s performance in this particular game for scouting purposes. Why? Winning by that BIG margin can only be done by a team who can score and defend well. This serves as a warning to the other teams. They shouldn’t take Magnolia for granted even though their stars are struggling. 

Twin Tower Era: Who’s Magnolia Hotshots’ Trump Card?

Japeth Aguilar and Greg Slaughter
Despite Magnolia’s loss on Christmas Classico, it turned out to be a healthy one. They seem to have drawn a trump card concealed inside their deep deck. A duo who could stop and counter the force of the threatening era of the twin towers of San Miguel and of course their recent opponent, Brgy Ginebra.
Facing the Brgy Ginebra squad is and will always be an ultimate test of character. Talking about Greg and Japeth combination, the shaded area seems to be preoccupied all the time due to this enormous beasts.
However, the Hotshots somehow kept up with the very dense Ginebra interior. The wall-like defense of the twin towers became the key for Hotshots to unlock their hidden weapon that could match the towers.

Smaller but still with power

Who can be able to stop the Pinoy Sakuragi Marc Pingris whenever he post-ups. He’s a great match against Japeth Aguilar despite the height disadvantage. Ping just outwits size with strength and agility. Another good thing about Pingris is that he could deliver one-handed floaters — a great way to shoot over huge players.

How about Gregzilla?

Slaughter might be the biggest player but still, he’s not the only big man existing in the league. Magnolia’s roster has a smaller but way faster and athletic player. Ian Sangalang hustled in their recent game both offensively and defensively.
What’s Sangalang’s advantage over Slaughter?
If Slaughter’s advantage were size, Sangalang’s got the speed. He could run in transition and finish fast breaks. In addition, fast breaks are twin towers’ weakness due to the high pace of the transition which they commonly could not keep up. Therefore, Sangalang can be considered the biggest man in terms of transition baskets.

Conclusion

You may never win in a head to head battle against players way bigger than you are but there is always some weak points that when taken advantage of, will be very effective and fatal. The key to outplaying the twin towers is through individual agility and team’s high offensive pace.

Lee Explodes for 30 Points in Magnolia’s Debut Win

Yep! The Lee-thal Weapon still has it

(Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
One team is entering the new season under a new team with the hopes of bringing something new to the league. The other team is hoping to begin anew as they were coming off one of their worst seasons in recent memory.
Despite missing key players to injury, the Magnolia Hotshots were able to rely on their defense to win their first game of the season against the Alaska Aces, 108-95.

Slow Start

The game started off slow for both teams as the Alaska Aces held a 6-5 edge with 3 minutes into the game.A few possessions and fouls later, the Magnolia Hotshots were already down 17-8 as Jvee Casio knocked down a three-pointer, forcing Chito Victolero to call a timeout with under 6 minutes left in the first quarter.
After a Mark Barroca basket. Jeron Teng completed a three-point play on the other end to give the Aces a 10-point lead. The Hotshots were visibly struggling as they were also dealing with the absences of their key players due to injury. Despite their sluggish start, Magnolia was able to stay close after Paul Lee drained a buzzer-beating trey to make it 26-21 at the end of the first quarter.

The Chickens Started Flying in the Second Quarter

After all, the Magnolia Hotshots are the “Pambansang Manok”, right? Just when the Aces were beginning to re-establish a double-digit lead, the Hotshots clamped down on D and went on a scoring run to make 35-30 with 9 minutes to play in the first half. Two consecutive inside baskets have finally enabled the Hotshots to take the lead, 36-35. 
Magnolia was able to slash into the sloppy defense of Alaska as their lead extended to 8 points, at 50-42 with under 3 minutes to play in the quarter. Kyle Pascual nailed a free throw later to give the Hotshots a 10-point lead as he added another lay-up to make it 56-44. The Hotshots walked into their locker with a 10-point advantage, at 57-47- thanks to their improved field goal shooting which was 55% for the first half and their defense which limited Alaska to only 2 for 10 shooting from the three-point line. 

The Beast got Unleashed Early in the Third. BUT

Calvin Abueva scored 8 points in the opening minutes of the second quarter to bring down the deficit to 6 points only for Magnolia to bring it back to 9 on a three-point shot. An offensive putback by Ian Sangalang put the Hotshots at 70-59 with under 7 minutes to play as the Aces were slowly fading anew.
As turnovers and defensive lapses began to pile up, the Aces saw themselves down by 14 points after Mark Barroca added another inside shot. Add Alaska’s inability to get the defensive rebounds to their woes plus an injury on the big man, Vic Manuel.  Paul Lee later drained a long bomb to put Magnolia by 15 points as PJ Simon added another trey to make it 87-671 heading into the final two minutes of the third quarter.  Both teams entered the final quarter with Magnolia holding an 87-74 lead.

The Aces Tried to Come Back. Tried

The Aces got within 11 points in the first 2 minutes of the 4th quarter thanks to their aggressiveness. Carl Cruz’s basket pushed the lead down to  9 only to watch Robert Herdon complete a 3-point play to stop the Hotshots’ bleeding. Another three, this time from Justin Melton brought the lead back up to 16, at 97-81.
The lead went down to as low as 8 points with under 4 minutes to play as Alaska forced Magnolia to difficult shots and took advantage of their opportunities on the break. That was before Paul Lee hit another three to make it a double-digit lead again. From that point on, Magnolia slowly wasted away the clock as Robert Herndon added another basket to put the game away.

The Numbers: The Good and the Ugly

Paul Lee scored 30 points off the bench to go along with 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Riego Gamalinda added 15 points while Ian Sangalang chipped in 13. Magnolia shot better from the field all game long, making 51% of their shot attempts while limiting Alaska to only 46% field goal shooting. Magnolia also forced 22  turnovers.
Calvin Abueva had 20 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists for the Aces but also had 5 of the 22 turnovers of Alaska. Vic Manuel also had 20 points while Jeron Teng added 16 points in his debut. 

The scores:

MAGNOLIA 108 – Lee 30, Gamalinda 15, Sangalang 13, Dela Rosa 10, Simon 9, Herndon 9, K. Pascual 9, Barroca 6, Melton 3, Ramos 2, Brondial 2.

ALASKA 95 – Abueva 20, Manuel 20, Teng 16, Casio 10, R. Pascual 7, Enciso 5, Exciminiano 5, Banchero 4, Thoss 3, J. Pascual 2, Cruz 2, Magat 1, Racal 0.

Quarter Scores:

21-26, 57-47, 87-74, 108-95.