MAGNOLIA is looking to sustain the heat of its back-to-back wins while Rain or Shine is dead-set to bounce back and reclaim control of the lead it had earlier enjoyed.
That’s the scenario when the Hotshots and the Elasto Painters collide in the crucial Game 5 of their best-of-seven semifinal duel in the PBA Philippine Cup.
The Elasto Painters took Game 1 (84-77) on April 12, and Game 2 (93-80) on April 14, for a 2-0 lead against a Magnolia team that was complaining of lack of adequate rest after a highly-demanding quarterfinal battle.
But the Hotshots resurrected their hopes by getting back at the Painters in Game 3, 85-74, on April 16.
After getting the much-needed rest afforded by the Lenten break, the Hotshots repeated over the Painters in Game 4, 94-91, last Monday in a victory that levelled their series to two games apiece.
The Hotshots thus got some good momentum going into today’s 7 p.m. Game 5 at the Cuneta Astrodome, although Magnolia coach Chito Victolero would not want to sound too optimistic about their chances, knowing full well they are up against a Rain or Shine team that is a veteran of countless playoff battles.
“We only tied the series,” said Victolero moments after the Hotshots, huge win in Game 4 where they led by as many as 21 points.
“It boils down to a best-of-three. We knew we need to come up hard and prepare hard. My players, they used their experience, energy, and aggressiveness to win this game,” added Victolero.
The Hotshots, relying on their fresh legs, actually dominated the Painters most of the way, but still had to endure several anxious moments in the face of the RoS’ determined rally.
Rain or Shine got to as close as one point, 92-91, and had the chance to turn the game in its favor when it seized ball possession in the waning seconds.
Fortunately for the Hotshots, James Yap missed on a three-point attempt at the buzzer.
“We know that Rain or Shine will come back. ‘Yun ang hinihintay namin. The thing is we held on to the lead. Mahirap kalaban ang Rain or Shine,” said Victolero.
“A win is a win. Maybe it’s 20 points, 10 points, three points, one point, I’ll take it,” added Victolero.