CHITO Victolero tweaked his starting unit for Game 6 of Magnolia’s PBA Philippine Cup semifinals series against Meralco on Friday.
It all worked out in the end.
The Magnolia coach inserted Justin Melton in the starting five and relegated high-scoring guard Paul Lee to an off-the-bench role as the Hotshots bundled out the Bolts, 93-85, to seal a place in the finals.
Although the Bolts came out smoking by scoring the game’s first 11 points with Lee sitting on the bench, the Hotshots didn’t panic and refused to veer away from the game plan.
It took a while before the team regrouped, but once it did, there was no stopping Magnolia from advancing to the Philippine Cup title series for the third time in four years.
“We adjusted on our starting five. We put Justin in and Paul off the bench,” said Victolero. “And I think, that’s the key because Justin had to guard Newsome.”
The 31-year-old Newsome was held to just 3-of-10 shooting from the field and finished with 14 points and forced to commit four of the Bolts’ 17 total turnovers.
Magnolia meanwhile, got unlikely contribution from Melton, who scored all his six points in the third period to help the Hotshots take full control in the second half.
Melton even outscored Lee, who only had four points and went 0-for-9 in the field.
“He hit his shots. Ang laking bagay ng mga shots ni Justin,” Victolero noted.
The Magnolia coach, who is in the finals for a fourth time, credited the team’s defense for preventing a team as explosive as Meralco from cutting loose, especially in the second half.
“Tulung-tulong lang kami. No pressure, no expectations. Just play hard, give their multiple effort on defense and on offense, and the result will come,” said Victolero.
Magnolia now awaits the winner of the other semifinal series between San Miguel and TnT Tropang Giga for the best-of-seven finals starting on Wednesday.Internet Explorer Channel Network