ANTIPOLO CITY – ‘Need To Believe.’
Against the two-time reigning champion and the PBA’s undisputed most popular ballclub, it’s the mindset Magnolia Pambansang Manok has to adopt to get past Barangay Ginebra.
Taking that approach, the Hotshots took down the Kings in the opener of their best-of-five semifinals series, 106-98, at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
Import Romeo Travis and Paul Lee took charge in the fourth quarter as they both scored nine points each to weather the storm and endured a huge Ginebra endgame rally.
“Just keep believing lang na kaya naming manalo against Ginebra. Yun ang battle cry namin ngayon,” said Lee, who led all Magnolia locals with 27 points.
It was deputy coach Johnny Abarrientos who thought about the catchphrase ‘We Need To Believe,’ according to Lee, the former league MVP being the Hotshots’ lead scout against Ginebra.
“So yun lang ang pinupukpok nila sa amin na we can win, we can do this as a team,” said Lee. “So everyone naniwala, collective effort, end of the game, nakuha namin yung panalo.”
The win was the first for Magnolia since Game 5 of last year’s Philippine Cup semifinals when the Hotshots took a 3-2 lead in the series, only to lose the next two games.
But no time to celebrate yet for the Hotshots, said Lee. It’s just Game One, and the experienced team the Kings are, Lee said the Hotshots should be even ready as the series wears on.
“That’s nothing. The job is not yet finished,” said the former University of the East standout.
Ginebra having the brilliant Tim Cone for its coach has been in this situation a lot of times in the past, and yet, still managed to steer his team to victory.
That certainly hasn’t been lost to Lee.
“We know coach Tim. You beat him once, he’ll gonna beat you twice. So we have to be ready for that,” said the Magnolia guard.