BOCAUE – Barangay Ginebra just exposed what Magnolia has been lacking all along – a dominant frontcourt.
With only Ian Sangalang left to battle the intimidating duo of Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar inside, the Hotshots fell to the Kings anew on Christmas Day, 89-78, for its first loss in the PBA Philippine Cup on Monday night.
The 6-foot-7 Sangalang came through with a career-high 25 points and 11 rebounds, but had a hard time containing Slaughter and Aguilar down low in the absence of needed help from the rest of the team’s big men.
Slaughter topscored for 24 points – 12 of them in the opening quarter –and added 13 boards, while Aguilar had 12 and five boards.
“We had a hard time defending the two big guys. Yun ang istorya ng laro,” admitted coach Chito Victolero outside the Magnolia dugout following the game at the Philippine Arena.
“We gave I think 56 percent sa field goal nila which is more on the points in the paint with Slaughter and Japeth.”
Official statistics though, would show Ginebra outscored Magnolia by just four meager points inside, 46-42, although the Kings won the battle of the boards, 57-45.
What compounded the Hotshots’ woes was the injury to veteran big man Rafi Reavis, while Marc Pingris, although he did play for 25 minutes and finished with six points and five rebounds, is still recuperating from an off-season procedure to remove three stones on his kidney.
“We’ll try to find ways next time on how to deal with those two big men,” said Victolero.
He did point out the poor shooting of the Hotshots from the field, converting just 32 of 88 from the floor for a paltry 36.4 percent, compared to the 44.9 percent of Ginebra, which went 35 of 78.
“They gave us low percentage shots. Medyo mahihirap yung mga tira namin. Hindi pumapasok,” the Magnolia coach admitted. “Pag tiningnan mo naman yung attempts, nandoon. Yung nga lang nahirapan talaga kaming maka-convert.”
But one loss doesn’t make a conference.
“I’m still positive. It’s still early in the conference pa,” Victolero stressed. “Yung isang talo, hindi makaka-break yan sa conference namin.”