Paul Lee’s shooting problems and foul trouble affecting Calvin Abueva and Mark Barroca overshadowed Ian Sangalang’s return to form despite an injured back as Magnolia Pambansang Manok suffered another defeat in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals.
The Hotshots are now down 0-2 in the best-of-seven championship series after a 105-93 loss Friday, Oct. 22 at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga after another torrid start by the Tropang Giga, who made 10 of their 16 threes in the first quarter.
Sangalang, who played just 10 minutes in the Game 1 loss due to back spasms, began to show the way he performed during Magnolia’s semifinal series triumph over Meralco when he scored 12 of his 25 points in the third quarter to close in on TNT.
But the comeback fell short and Hotshots coach Chito Victolero and his staff are now in a dilemma as to how they can make their way back in the series, especially with TNT dictating the early part of both games.
They’ll also need to figure out a way to make Lee perform better than his combined 8-of-24 shooting despite posting 12 points in both games.
He is also dealing with an injured right shoulder that’s bothering him since the semis while also played the rest of the game despite hurting his leg in the first half.
Abueva has yet to display in the series the positives that were among the reasons why Magnolia is at this point while also being the top candidate for the Best Player of the Conference award.
He posted a second-straight 11-point, 11-rebound game, but struggled against the TNT frontcourt. Abueva was also dealing with four fouls as early as the third quarter and was eventually disqualified with his sixth during the fourth.
Barroca didn’t foul out but had to spend some time on the bench when he got his fourth during a lengthy third quarter that became a free-throw shooting contest for both squads.
The veteran guard did have 11 points, five rebounds and five assists while Jio Jalalon turned in five points, five rebounds and eight assists despite erratic decisions early in the contest that contributed to his four turnovers.
One silver lining for the Hotshots were Aris Dionisio and Jackson Corpuz, who combined for 13 points off the bench and their contributions may result in something positive moving forward.
Game 3 is set Sunday, with Magnolia looking to avoid a 0-3 deficit which remains a difficult obstacle to overcome even if San Miguel Beer was able to pull off the trick in the 2016 Philippine Cup Finals.