Coaches set priorities

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star
Coaches set priorities
Chito Victolero.

MANILA, Philippines — Opposing coaches Chito Victolero of Magnolia and Norman Black of Meralco aren’t revealing what’s up their sleeves before the winner-take-all Game 5 of the PBA Governors Cup semifinal series at the Smart Araneta Coliseum tonight but they disclosed their playbook priorities to get the job done.

Victolero said Magnolia’s three priorities are to limit Meralco’s transition and fastbreak points, hold down the Bolts’ second chance points and offensive rebounds and execute on both ends of the floor. In Game 4 last Wednesday, the Hotshots recovered from back-to-back losses to stun the Bolts, 94-73 behind an unforgiving defensive lockdown that resulted in Meralco’s lowest output this conference. Although Meralco got off to an 11-0 start, Magnolia buckled down to work with Paul Lee and Calvin Abueva coming off the bench to spark an uprising that turned the tables and led to a 22-point lead in the fourth period.

Rebounding was key to Magnolia’s surge as the Hotshots dominated the boards, 57-40. A major adjustment was the Hotshots’ focus on inside scoring. In the first three contests, Magnolia averaged 27 three-point attempts and hit 22.2 percent. In Game 4, Magnolia took only 13 triple tries and relentlessly attacked the rim, resulting in more points in the paint, 45-24. Magnolia also had more bench points, 43-24 as only two Bolts scored in double figures.

Black had similar priorities as Victolero but after frittering away the chance to close out in Game 4, the Bolts know it’s now or never. Meralco had a virtual twice-to-beat advantage entering Game 4 and although the Bolts lost, they’ve got one more crack to make it to the Finals. Black said his keys to win are to control the rebounds, limit Magnolia’s second chance opportunities, take care of the ball and smoothly execute its press break. “(We need to) play with a sense of urgency, no tomorrow attitude,” said Black.

Magnolia’s pressure physical defense took a toll on Meralco in Game 4 as the Bolts were forced into hurried attempts and poor shot selection. Meralco wound up hitting 35.6 percent from the field compared to Magnolia’s 49.3 percent. Tony Bishop’s passing lanes were clogged and he ended up with no assist and six turnovers. Magnolia’s Mike Harris used brute force to muscle his way for inside points as he took only one three-point attempt to finish with 34 points, 18 rebounds and no turnover.


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