by Jonas Terrado
Efficient guard play was one of the major reasons why Magnolia was able to draw first blood in their PBA Philippine Cup Finals showdown against defending champion San Miguel Beer Wednesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Hotshots got significant offensive numbers from their backcourt crew while also displaying the usual defensive effort to play a decisive role in grabbing the series opener, 99-94.
Paul Lee produced 18 points, six rebounds and five assists, Jio Jalalon posted 16 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals, Mark Barroca 17 points, three assists and two steals and Justin Melton 11 points spiked by three triples with four rebounds and three assists.
“Gulat nga ako sa stats ngayon dahil ang naming double digits,” said Barroca.
Their big plays enabled to make things easier for Magnolia’s other key players like Ian Sangalang who finished 17 points and 12 rebounds.
“Pag maganda nilalaro ng mga guards namin, madali ang laro para sa amin,” Lee noted.
Magnolia’s offensive burst from its guards was usually the norm for San Miguel, with only Alex Cabagnot posting double figures with 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting.
Terrence Romeo’s first finals game ended in misery, missing 9-of-11 from the floor while scoring just eight points and Chris Ross likewise going the same clip for five points.
Marcio Lassiter played heavy minutes – 32 to be exact – since being hounded by a back problem but went scoreless on eight shots including a potential game-tying three.
“It happens to the best of us, I know I need to be better,” said Lassiter.
Lassiter said he’s no longer bothered by back spasm, but the long layoff and not being able to play was the reason of his struggles.
“Nothing is affecting me. I haven’t played in two weeks almost. Aside from rhythm establish, I’ll be fine,” said Lassiter. “This is my first real minutes since probably in 12 days so I’m gonna get my rhythm and pick it up from there.”
San Miguel is expected to make major adjustments in the hours leading up to Friday’s Game 2 but maintaining its signature brand of defense may again lead to better things for Magnolia on the other end.
“Pag nakakadefense kami, yung opensa namin sumusunod,” Barroca said. (With a report from Waylon Galvez)