Magnolia went off to a hot start and took down the Phoenix Super LPG, 95-77, in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena on Friday, June 24.
The Fuel Masters, who were riding the crest of a two-game win streak heading into the match, got a harsh reality check from the Hotshots who opened the game with a blazing 11-0 run and never looked back en route to their second straight win for a 3-3 win-loss record.
Mark Barocca showed the way as he put up 21 points, six assists and five rebounds while Aris Dionisio provided support with 19 markers and seven boards for the Hotshots who also bucked the suspension of the enigmatic forward Calvin Abueva.
“We just try to focus on our defense. We basically focus on the press break and our defensive scheme on their players,” said Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero after the team clamped down on the defensive end especially against Phoenix’s high scoring guards led by Matthew Wright and RJ Jazul.
“Regarding sa players, wala si Paul, si Jerrick and then wala si Calvin so yung guard rotation namin yung nasaktan. Next man up ‘yun talaga yung mentality namin because we don’t want an excuse. We don’t want na maging excuses ‘yung mga injuries because it happens naman talaga. Excuses make us weak eh,” he added.
Magnolia put on the work early as aside from the splendid start it also kept Phoenix scoreless in the first six minutes of the game. The Hotshots just kept their foot on the gas pedal from that point as the lead ballooned to as big as 27 points early in the third frame.
Phoenix just couldn’t get anything going as it struggled dissecting the Magnolia defense with Javee Mocon the lone bright spot with 19 points. Its guard rotation that featured Wright and Jazul along with rookies Encho Serrano and Tyler Tio, after being the source of offense for the Fuel Masters in their last two games, was just limited to a measly total of 24 points.