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PBA: Even with the PBA finals underway, Victolero still believes Magnolia is the underdog

Feb 11, 2024

The Hotshots, who had previously struggled to score from outside in the first two games, have started to show promise in this area as well, making a series-high 10 three-pointers on Friday.

Tyler Bey, who played the combined roles of top defender against San Miguel import Bennie Boatwright and offensive danger for Magnolia, finished Game Four with 26 points, making him the largest benefit.

Online fans anticipated a sweep of the championship match after Magnolia, the team with the highest seed going into the playoffs, suffered a crushing 109-85 loss in Game 2 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay on Sunday, dropping them to a 0-2 deficit.

However, they came out firing in Wednesday’s Game 3, controlling the game early and relying on Paul Lee and Aris Dionisio in the closing seconds to secure the 88-80 victory and stave off a far more hazardous situation.

On Friday, Lee delivered again, hitting a long trifecta close to the logo to aid in a dramatic 17-4 comeback from a 79-all tie. With the 11-point win, Lee eventually left the Big Dome to draw the series.

Magnolia not only defeated a team that went on a scorching 11-game winning streak twice, but they also effectively forced a best-of-three match in the Finals.

Victolero had earlier stated that the team’s two days off before Game 3 allowed them to regroup and re-energize, but now that they had won back-to-back games, it’s possible that this benefitted them in more ways than one.

It seemed to have helped the Hotshots find their defensive rhythm again, as seen by the way they contained Bennie Boatwright in Game 4, limiting him to a conference-low 16 points on 16 shots. In addition, the 27-year-old made six mistakes.

The club is now focused on Sunday’s Game 5, and their confidence has surged as they look to snap a six-year title drought.

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