In a title series that has so far been played in streaks, Beermen try to ring death knell for Hotshots

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Tyler Bey (right) and the Hotshots are not ready to concede anything to Bennie Boatwright and the Beermen. —AUGUST DELA CRUZ

Having some momentum and the veritable psychological edge, San Miguel sets out to deal the finishing blow on Magnolia when they clash in Game 6 of what has been a compelling Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup Finals on Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Beermen also have a lot of history going for them when they take the floor at 7:30 p.m. as they have, in the last 25 years, never lost a title series once they grab a 3-2 lead.

Coach Jorge Gallent, though, doesn’t want those things to get in the heads of his Beermen, knowing full well that they are battling a Hotshots crew that is quickly capable of turning the tide in the series.

“We expect them (Hotshots) to do the same (as in previous games)—they’ll try to outwork us [again]. We just have to be prepared for what’s coming,” Gallent said.

Jericho Cruz, the San Miguel spark plug whose hot shooting that resulted in a 30-point Game 5 masterpiece had the Beermen regaining control of the title showdown, reached for the same refrain.

“Job’s not finished yet. Back to the drawing board [we go] and see what the coaches will give us for plays and preparation,” Cruz said.

Interestingly, there seems to be less pressure on Magnolia.

On the eve of an elimination game, Chito Victolero was just as unfazed as Tyler Bey shortly after a 108-98 Game 5 loss had the Hotshots down in the series again.

Thick of things

“We’ve been down 0-2 and we adjusted,” Victolero told the Inquirer over the phone on Tuesday. “Our backs are against the wall, sure. But we’ve been here several times.”

“I feel good about [our chances] this conference,” Bey, who finished second in the Best Import balloting, said after that Game 5 defeat. “I don’t feel like our backs are against the wall. Obviously we’re down one [game], they got one more (win) to go, but I believe in this team.”

Magnolia lost the first two games of the series but turned the duel into a race-to-three after winning Games 3 and 4 mainly because of its defense.

Victolero pointed out that his charges were in the thick of things throughout the last loss and knows exactly the things that they need to address.

“We lost the 50-50 balls, the rebounding battle, and even fast-break points,” Victolero said. “We also had defensive lapses, but we were right there.

“We have to play our best game and I think we’re ready to do just that. I like the way we played last Sunday. While we lost, there was much to [commend], like our energy and effort,” he added.

Victolero also shared how promising his wards looked during practice on Tuesday morning.

“They had this certain mood. Their aura was different.



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“In terms of motivation, outside the Xs and Os, I really couldn’t ask for anything more,” he went on. “This is a series. You can’t apply anything major because we’re short on days (to prepare). We just hope the minor tweaks we’ll have create advantages for us.”





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