By JONAS TERRADO
Magnolia Pambansang Manok goes for the kill and a spot in the finals when they clash with Meralco in Game 5 of their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series Wednesday at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.
The Hotshots hope to succeed in their first three chances to finish off the Bolts in the 3 p.m. opener before the San Miguel Beermen and TNT Tropang Giga aim for a 3-2 lead in their own semis duel at 6 p.m.
Meanwhile, San Miguel will head into the pivotal game of the series in high morale after thumping TNT, 116-90, in Game 4.
TNT’s chances of bouncing back could depend on the status of Poy Erram, who doctors feared to have suffered a fractured cheekbone.
Erram’s remains a question mark for the Tropang Giga, who are seeking to get back on track following a disappointing start the last time.
An 81-69 win in Game 4 gave Magnolia a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, yet coach Chito Victolero emphasized the importance of not giving Meralco any chance to turn things around.
Only three teams have overcome such deficit to win a seven-game affair.
“We have to stay focused, we have to remind everybody na the most important game na ilalaro namin is yung game namin na lalaruin on that day. Not Game 6, not Game 7, but Game 5,” said Victolero.
Victolero will try to steer Magnolia to its third Philippine Cup Finals in the last four seasons with the trio of Calvin Abueva, Paul Lee and Ian Sangalang, who was named the Cignal Play-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week.
Mark Barroca, whose three-point shot prevented Meralco from completing its comeback from a 22-point deficit, Jio Jalalon, RafI Reavis, rookie Jerrick Ahanmisi, Jackson Corpuz, Rome dela Rosa and Aris Dionisio will again be used in Magnolia’s quest to land the final blow on Meralco.
Meralco has been missing key players Aaron Black and Raymond Almazan in the series, but has shown that it can win games despite a depleted lineup.
The performances of Chris Newsome, Cliff Hodge and Allein Maliksi will play a role in the Bolts’ fate.