IF there’s anyone on the NLEX side that knows the Magnolia franchise well, it’s no other than versatile wing man Alex Mallari.
Co-incidentally, it was Mallari who proved to be a thorn to his former squad’s side as he drained the go-ahead three pointer with 14 seconds left to lead the Road Warriors to an 88-87 win over the Hotshots in Game One of the PBA Philippine Cup Semifinals, Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Mallari, who was a part of the franchise’s Grand Slam squad, knows this squad too well and he expects nothing less than a huge bounce back from his ex-team.
“Game One is always an important win, especially with a great team like that. You don’t want to give them a lead, but it’s just one game. They didn’t have the best game so we can expect them to bounce back. We just need to improve on what we did good and fix the things that we didn’t do so well,” said Mallari who finished with 14 points on 6-9 shooting in the win.
“They have that championship mentality. We know that they’re not just gonna lay over so we just have to prepare for a dogfight."
For Mallari, containing the guards of the Hotshots will be the most crucial thing over the next few games something that they did well in this game.
Save for PJ Simon, who put up a vintage performance with 20 points, no other Magnolia guard breached double digits with Paul Lee being limited to eight markers, Mark Barroca to nine while Jio Jalalon and Justin Melton both went scoreless on a combined 0-12 shooting from the field.
He knows that it’s something that they need to continue to do come Monday.
“They’re all over the court and you just have to pay attention. You can’t let your guard down at all. We know they’re great rebounding guards so we gotta keep them off the glass,” Mallari said.
“They slash hard, they post, they got a lot of stuff going on for them so we just gotta take every possession like it’s crucial.”