By JONAS TERRADO
Magnolia Pambansang Manok is not too thrilled of being 3-1up in the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals with Meralco still capable of turning things arounds.
The Hotshots moved a win shy of advancing to the championship series after their 81-69 victory Sunday, Oct. 10 at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.
But Mark Barroca said Magnolia has yet to do the hardest part in the best-of-seven affair which is to put the finishing blow on the undermanned Meralco squad.
“Based on my experience dito, sobrang hirap mag-close out ng series,” Barroca said. “Sobrang mahirap ang series. Una ang effort na binigay namin, kailangan pa namin i-triple ang binigay na effort namin. Kasi di bibigay yan e. Kung kami, nasa sitwasyon nila, backs against the wall. Yun talaga ang gagawin talaga namin.
“Kailangang lampasan ang effort nila na yun kasi alam namin ang Meralco more on effort sila e. Kailangan tapatan, i-triple ang effort namin kasi mahirap mag-close out ng series.
“So kami, dito na kami sa sitwasyon ngayon may advantage na kami. Di na ibibigay yun sa next game. Kukunin na talaga namin kung kailangan talaga. Basta ibigay namin ang effort namin. Si Lord na ang bahala. Kasi alam namin binigay namin ang effort, may resulta talaga sa huli,” he concluded.
Despite its lineup getting thinner following Raymond Almazan’s ankle injury, Meralco took Game 3 with a 91-86 win to deny Magnolia a third consecutive triumph.
Game 4 looked like an easy victory for the Hotshots, until the Bolts threatened late in the fourth by pulling within five, 74-69, from a high of 22 in the third period.
The run was cut short, however, when Barroca drained a three-pointer to put Magnolia out of danger.
The series has also seen Meralco produce a six-point lead early in the fourth in Game 1 and 12 in the second quarter of Game 2 before Magnolia found ways to capture both games.
Aside from Almazan, Meralco is also without starting point guard Aaron Black due to an injured right hand while another guard in Trevis Jackson and third-string big man Jammer Jamito are still under the league’s health and safety protocols.