Magnolia survived a huge second-half uprising from TNT to come away with a nail-biting 92-88 win to tie the series in their best-of-seven semifinals showdown in the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Friday, Aug. 5
The Hotshots, after struggling to complete a stop in Game 1, finally regained their defensive intensity in the first half and limited the Tropang Giga to just 29 points although they still had to weather a huge fourth-quarter storm from Mikey Williams to score the series equalizer after two matches.
“Di naman talaga namin kaya na ma-stop si Mikey, ang goal namin ma-limit yung contributions niya sa TNT and once mag-init talaga siya tuluy-tuloy. But I want to give credit to Rome. They did a good job on defending Williams,” said Victolero after limiting Williams to just three points in the first half.
Despite pinning down the high-scoring guard in the first half, Williams still found a way to get his rhythm going in the next two quarters, erupting for 25 of his 28-point total to help TNT threaten late in the game.
“We have to be consistent, mayroon talagang mga span nung game na talagang dirediretso yung points niya but it’s all about team defense. The big men nag-help din sila sa small guys namin it’s a total team effort,” added Victolero.
Mark Barroca led the way for Magnolia with 22 points including the timely baskets which kept the Hotshots afloat in the face of the huge TNT rally. Ian Sangalang chipped in 20 points and eight rebounds while Calvin Abueva added 17.
TNT, however, battled back from a 19-point hole in the third with Williams carrying the fight for the Tropang Giga and pull within striking distance, 86-81, with a little over two minutes left in the game.
He then traded baskets with Sangalang and Barroca before a triple from Kelly Williams cut the lead down to just two 90-88. RR Pogoy was close to completing a steal in the next possession but was caught stepping on the sideline, allowing Barroca and Abueva to seal the game from the charity stripe.