WITH Rain or Shine and Magnolia both riding on fresh legs after a Lenten breather, Game 4 of their semifinal series in the PBA Philippine Cup promises to be a lot more intense and exciting.
That’s what can be expected of the Elasto Painters and the Hotshots who will meet at 7 p.m. today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum after a six-day respite afforded by the Lenten break.
The Hotshots have been longing for some rest after an excruciating quarterfinal stint tolled on them in the semifinals that resulted into them losing badly in the first two outings of the best-of-7 series.
Now, the Hotshots got not only the rest they badly need to get even with the Painters. They also got the momentum after winning Game 3, 85-74, last April 16 before they headed for the six-day break.
The game is so crucial that both teams are expected to give their best because of psychological effect this game can have on them the rest of the series.
For Magnolia, a win will enable it to tie the series and gain much confidence which the Hotshots have lost after losing Games 1 (84-77) and 2, (93-80).
As for the Elasto Painters, the motivation is just as huge as it can be because if they win today, they will go up, 3-1, and as everybody knows, that is also to tough to overcome.
“(It’s an) important game tomorrow (today). We have a chance to tie the series,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero yesterday after supervising the Hotshots during their practice.
“Our defense, our effort and our energy are very important for the game. We need to match their will in order for us to win,” added Victolero.
As both teams are coming off good rest, Victolero is expecting the Hotshots and the Painters to engage in a pretty tough fight the whole game.
“Both teams coming from very good rest and will help the players to execute on both ends of the floor,” said Victolero. “We just need to be consistent on our defensive mindset.”
Ian Sangalang and Paul Lee scored 16 points each to help the Hotshots avoid falling into 0-3 hole in Game 3.
Sangalang was at his best in the fourth period as his big plays enabled the Hotshots to foil the E-Painters bid to zoom to a 3-0 lead in the series.
Sangalang personally got the Hotshots back on track as he scored 12 of his 16 points in the last 10 minutes of the game, including six in their back-breaking 8-0 closing binge.
“I just stayed positive. Nag-respond ako sa mga teammates ko na patuloy na naniwala sa akin. Thankful ako especially kay Kuya Ping (Marc Pingris) na talagang tinulak ako at nagbigay ng guidance,” said Sangalang.
The Hotshots actually trailed most of the way, but thanks to Sangalang and Justin Melton, they were able come up with a vicious run late in the game. They surged ahead to stay at 76-71 on back-to-back twinners by Sangalang and a booming three-pointer by Melton.
Sangalang was also there when the Hotshots who were protecting a shaky lead at 76-74, scoring his last six markers - two baskets from the perimeter area plus two charities.
Lee said their Game 3 win eased the Hotshots’ concern as they took the rest to recuperate during the four-day lull from Holy Wednesday to Easter Sunday.