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    Expect a grind-out battle in Magnolia-Meralco semis grudge match

    Mar 23, 2022
    Chito Victolero and Norman Black
    Chito Victolero's Hotshots and Norman Black' Bolts face off in a rematch of the all-Filipino semifinals in Bacolor.
    PHOTO: PBA Images

    Games today (March 23) (MOA Arena):

    3 p.m. Meralco vs Magnolia

    6 p.m. NLEX vs Ginebra

    TWO teams with similar identities try to assert their playing style early as Magnolia and Meralco start their PBA Governors’ Cup semifinal series on Wednesday afternoon at the Mall of Asia Arena.

    Magnolia vs Meralco preview

    Relying on a resolute defense that has enabled them to finish the eliminations on top, the Hotshots face as Bolts side that has relatively less firepower, but has made the most of its personnel to finish fourth in the regular season.

    Tipoff of the best-of-five series opener is at 3 p.m. before NLEX and Ginebra collide in the main event at 6 o’clock.

    “Both teams have a defensive mindset,” Hotshots coach Chito Victolero said after his team eliminated Phoenix, 127-88, in the quarterfinals. “Expect this to be a very good series. Both teams are going hard, play defense, grind together, so I think this is a dogfight. This is good for the fans.”

    Continue reading below ↓

    The Hotshots’ pesky defense is evidenced by their league-leading 9.2 steals per game, while ranking third in points allowed with 93.3 a contest. Apart from its signature defense, Magnolia is also a well-oiled offensive machine as it is No. 1 in the tournament in scoring at 107.4 points.

    Video

    Magnolia veteran Mark Barroca battles RR Pogoy of TNT for the loose ball.

    The Bolts, on the other hand, are second in the league in points allowed, limiting opponents to just 93 points, and are fifth in blocks with four rejections – their defense showing in a 100-85 rout that showed San Miguel the door in the first round.

    Continue reading below ↓

    “Magnolia’s a whole ‘nother story,” Bolts coach Norman Black said. “They’re pretty much a powerhouse team right now. Their import is probably right up there with the top imports in the league, so they’re a problem we’re going to have to solve.”

    "We're not a powerhouse team... but I believe we can beat any team on any night," he added. "No team is unbeatable, in other words."

    Magnolia, though, has had Meralco’s number recently, dispatching the Bolts in six games in the Philippine Cup semifinals in Bacolor.

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      The Hotshots sustained their streak against the Bolts in this elimination round where Magnolia scored an 88-85 win last March 2 in a game where NBA veteran Mike Harris put up 30 points and 22 boards.

      Whether the Hotshots can keep it going or the Bolts have figured them out will be known in Game One of the Final Four.

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      Chito Victolero's Hotshots and Norman Black' Bolts face off in a rematch of the all-Filipino semifinals in Bacolor.
      PHOTO: PBA Images
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