Magnolia didn’t exactly have an inspiring start to the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup.
The Hotshots were 0-3 and were on the brink of elimination after a 1-4 start. Still, despite the early struggles, Magnolia found a way to somehow claim the no. 6 seed, setting up an early Manila Clasico showdown against rival Barangay Ginebra in the quarterfinals.
Now, after a long fight just to make the playoffs, the Hotshots turn their attention to the Gin Kings for what should be another explosive showdown.
But with just a short best-of-3 series this time, the opening game becomes all the more crucial.
“Medyo napa-aga,” guard Paul Lee said on Manila Clasico.
“Crucial yung Game 1, yun yung sinasabi samin ni Coach Chito. Parang Game 7 na kasi kung sino talaga maka-una, yun na mataas ang chance manalo sa series,” he added.
Coming of a championship run in the 2018 Governors’ Cup, where they won a Manila Clasico series in the semifinals, the Hotshots had a rough end to their schedule in the All-Filipino.
At one point just before the All-Star break, Magnolia played a full set in one PBA week.
Still, while it was a daunting task, the grind helped the Hotshots get in rhythm and Magnolia closed the elimination round with a three-game streak to get into the top-6.
Of course, finishing inside the top-6 gets you out of the dreaded twice-to-win scenario in the first round.
“Sobrang importante samin yun [best-of-3] kasi ayaw naman namin ma-eliminate ng maaga. At least nakabawi kami sa bad start namin,” Lee said.
“Maganda naman yung after nung three games namin sa simula, yung break naka-tulong samin. Napa-ganda lang din yung schedule namin na sunud-sunod, nakuha namin yung timing namin. Medyo mahirap, pero alam mo yun, naka-tulong din samin,” he added.
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