(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
Game 6, best-of-7 semifinal series
7 p.m. – NLEX vs. Magnolia
Score: Magnolia leads, 3-2
MAGNOLIA has never come this close to PBA finals under coach Chito Victolero.
The Hotshots try to finish off NLEX as they gun for a finals berth in the PBA Philippine
Cup in a game Victolero expects the Road Warriors will give their best to remain alive.
“We’ll just try to grab the chance,” said Victolero in a phone conversation with People’s
Journal minutes after the team’s practice yesterday.
Victolero was referring to the championship stint which would be there for the Hotshots to
take by repeating over the Road Warriors in Game 6 of the best-of-7 semifinal series at the Smart
Indeed, ending what has already been a tough series has become all the more luring for the
Hotshots after taking the lead, 3-2, following a well-earned 87-78 victory in Game 5 last Friday.
Unlike in their semifinal stint in the same tournament last season where they were dragged
by Barangay Ginebra to seven games – and lost – the Hotshots have handsome chances this time in
their bid to return to the finals for the first time since 2014.
However, that is easier said than done, more so against an amazing Road Warriors who can
only be expected to come out hard in the 7 p.m. game.
“We’re readying for the energy and effort na pupwedeng ibigay ng NLEX sa laro na ito dahil
do-or-die sila ditto,” said Victolero, who is looking for his first finals stint in the PBA.
“Kailangan lang namin talaga na magign ready. We know naman that they will come out hard
tomorrow to stay alive,” added Victolero.
NLEX coach Yeng Guiao remains optimistic despite his Road Warriors absorbing back-to-back
setbacks, contending that all they have to do is take this one (Game 6) and give their best shot
in the decider.
Actually, Guiao has been mentioning that even before the start of the series.
“Makarating ng Game 7 ano man maging resulta masaya na kami,” the grizzled tactician said.
“Kahit na mag-salit-salitan lang, pagdating ng Game 7 toss coin na lang iyon, e. You’d
take that chance. Ok na kami doon,” he added.
Unfortunately, Guiao will have to stretch the NLEX bench to its fullest, with Kevin Alas a
doubtful start after hurting his right knee while going for a drive in the last 39 seconds of Game
Alas has been one of NLEX take-charge guys and part of Guiao’s regular rotation way back
in the elimination up to the semis.
“We need four wins to go to the finals, so just try to maintain... be consistent on our
effort, consistent on our focus and our mental toughness,” stated Victolero.