CHICAGO -- At about 9 this morning, the entire Magnolia Hotshots team commandeered one of the function rooms of the Quest hotel in Pampanga to watch film and relive the "sins" of Game 3.
After a cathartic one-hour session, an additional other 120 minutes were devoted to practice, walkthrough, and shoot-around.
Preparation and attention to detail is ingrained in the DNA of head coach Chito Victolero. Which is why he is one of the best, if not the best, coach in the PBA right now.
If he were coaching San Miguel, oh my God. The Beermen would be a dynasty on steroids. And the PBA would probably fold because no other team can beat all that insane talent on their roster and the bottomless financial resources at their disposal.
But that's a column for another day.
For now, it's all about Game 4 and the chance -- again -- to seize a commanding lead over Meralco, this time a 3-1 series lead.
For that to materialize, a few things need to happen.
Magnolia can't have another slow start, one that got them in a deep hole early in Game 3.
The Hotshots shot the ball like amateurs in Game 3, just 33-of-75 from the field (44 percent) and 7-of-24 from 3 (29 percent). They need a full clip in Game 4, not an empty one.
Magnolia can't allow Meralco to shoot at a 49-percent rate again. And they can't let Nards Pinto and Nonoy Baclao shine as though they were Steph and Klay.
If they check all of the above boxes, the Hotshots should be just fine and I look forward to them recovering from that Game 3 hiccup.
HOW ABOUT SOME DEFENSE, SMB?
I have no clue what San Miguel, down 1-2, against powerhouse TNT, did today. I just wish their coaching staff paid attention to the scoreboard.
Through 3 games in their best-of-seven series, the Tropang Giga has hung 300 points on the Beermen. A hundred a game, really?
And that's even after the magnificent Chris Ross has held rookie "sensation" Mikey Williams to just 39 points on a mediocre 30 percent shooting from the field and 23 percent from 3.
And what's up with these huge deficits early and often?
That's got to stop. TNT is too good, too versatile to be allowed to go ahead by a few meters in a short 48-minute race.
I understand that June Mar Fajardo has been neutralized by the ability of TNT's big men to shoot 3s, so what about trying a zone defense while letting athletic wings like Arwind Santos and Marcio Lassiter close out on the shooters?
It's a dangerous ploy in a way that it exposes so many holes against a team loaded with snipers. But if it could keep a lumbering Fajardo from venturing outside the paint and concentrate instead on rebounding and interior protection, it's a risk worth taking.
I see no harm in trying.
BOXING IS FOR REAL FOR JIMUEL PACQUIAO. With a famous last name and his family's truckloads of money, Jimuel Pacquiao has the luxury of pursuing whatever it is he wants.
He has chosen to be a boxer, which is a perplexing choice given that his dad, senator Manny, entered the sport once upon a time only to get out of poverty.
Jimuel is already rich, what's in it for him?
Apparently, the kid had acquired or inherited an intense passion for boxing. And he is dead serious about it as proven by his exhausting regimen at the Wild Card gym as he preps for an upcoming fight under the watchful eyes of trainer Stanley Godinez.
Former SPIN.ph contributor Nick Roska paid Jimuel a visit recently and was surprised at both the young Pacquiao's skills and dedication.
"He didn't wave the card of privilege and has trained just as hard as the other Pinoy fighters at Freddie Roach's gym," Nick said from Los Angeles.
But the thing that knocked Nick off his mitts was Jimuel's humility. "The young man has no air about him at all," says Roska.
I can personally attest to that as I once took Jimuel and his brother Michael to meet Steph Curry in 2015 at a Clippers game at Staples Center. They didn't behave as spoiled, entitled brats whatsoever.
So yeah, it sure looks like senator Manny has scored a KO in terms of raising his children well. And hopefully, Jimuel finds happiness in a sport that made his father a global icon.
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