After passing the test against San Miguel with flying colors, the Magnolia’s defense will be put into a wringer anew as it faces up against second running Bay Area in the 2022 PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City on Saturday, Nov. 19.
The Hotshots, who take so much pride in their defense, are taking on the challenge of putting the cuffs on the Dragons import Myles Powell in their huge collision which is vital for their respective Top 2 aspirations in a duel set at 6:45 p.m.
It will come after a thrilling showdown between San Miguel and Phoenix – both looking to arrest their two-game slides – in the opening game at 4:30 p.m.
Daunting however is the task to limit Powell who has been on a tear ever since his return to his team, dropping 50 and 38 points in the last two games although Magnolia has the tools and the system to pull it through.
“Kailangan namin paghandaan yun kasi grabe din yung pyesa ng Bay Area and yung import nila talagang scorer rin talaga. Hopefully yung idedepensa namin kasi sobrang fast paced nung Bay Area nung si Powell yung ginamit nila lalong bumilis sila,” said Magnolia star Paul Lee.
Hotshots head coach Chito Victolero is set to lean on his defensive specialists in Mark Barroca, Jio Jalalon and Rome Dela Rosa while Ian Sangalang and import Nick Rakocevic should serve as the team’s last line of defense.
While he might not be the primary defender, Lee is also keeping himself ready in case of a cross-matchup against the prolific import.
“Di naman ako siguro ilalagay ni coach Chito kay Myles pero ready lang ako kung sakaling macross matchup ako sa kanya, ready lang ako and sasandalan ko kung ano yung game plan namin sa kanya kapag nagkaroon kami ng cross matchups,” added Lee.
Lee’s matchup against Powell, especially on the offensive end, is another intriguing storyline in the marquee duel although the Hotshots lead guard is already tempering expectations in the looming showdown as he doesn’t want Magnolia to engage Bay Area in a shootout.
“Shootout talo na kami agad kasi lagi naman kaming nireremind ni coach chito na di yun yung team namin na pag lumaban kami ng offense to offense di kami mananalo in any game. Kailangan namin dumepensa as a team yun yung sinasabi namin na yung big offense namin is yung depensa namin,” said Lee.
Probably the biggest test just yet to Magnolia’s title aspirations, Lee said such big games, whether they win or not, will only help them prepare for the playoffs.
“Marami na kaming biggest test, yung mga gantong klase ng laro gaya ito, sa San Miguel dikdikan yung laban makakatulong sa amin yan going to the playoffs.”