Opening win not a cushion

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

Game One of the PBA Commissioners Cup Finals is over and San Miguel Beer is a win up over Magnolia in the race-to-four series The opener was hotly-contested with flagrant one fouls called on Mo Tautuaa and James Laput, a technical on coach Chito Victolero and a double technical on Calvin Abueva and Don TrollanoSan Miguels biggest lead was 20 in the fourth quarter but that was razed to five with less than a minute leftThe Beermen led most of the way, 36:44, to be exact and Magnolia, looking a bit weary from only a one-day rest after disposing of Phoenix in the semis, was slow in rotating to close out on open shootersWithout sturdy legs, the Hotshots couldnt play defense as intensely as they did throughout the conference where the team held opponents to an average of 87.9 points.

San Miguels transition attack and marksmanship put Magnolia on its heels earlyThe Hotshots took 16 more attempts from the field but could only connect on 39.1 percent while the Beermen hit 43.4 percentThree-point shooting was key for San Miguel as the Beermen knocked down 10 to Magnolias threeWhen youre tired, you dont sprint back on defense as quickly, your pulse is shaky from outside and you give up too many free throws because youre playing defense with more hands than feetSan Miguel took 44 free throws compared to Magnolias 25The Beermen missed 17 foul shots and if they made half of those, the final margin wouldve been 16 not eight.

The imports cancelled each other out with Tyler Bey finishing with 26 and Bennie Boatwright 28The only other Hotshot in double figure points was Mark Barroca with 16 as Jio Jalalon and Abueva were held to less than 30 percent shootingIn contrast, CJ Perez, June Mar Fajardo, Marcio Lassiter and Don Trollano notched twin digitsVictolero extended his rotation to allow his relievers more playing time and as a result, Magnolia had more bench points, 53-27Coach Jorge Gallent, however, displayed more balance in San Miguels assault so that even if his relievers were outscored, the starters made all the difference.

Game Two could be a different storyVictolero will surely adjust and might tweak his starting lineup to throw off Gallent who has used the same first five throughout the playoffsSan Miguel did a solid job stifling Magnolias pick-and-rolls so Victolero might consider more post action to exploit the Hotshotssize and put more pressure on Boatwright defensivelyClamping down on San Miguels facilitators is crucial to delay the advance of the ball and disrupt the entry pass to FajardoPlaying zone is an option to take away the Beermens inside game.

Magnolia had little time to prepare for Game One but now, Victolero is fully tuned in to what has to be done in the FinalsBoth teams are coming off a one-day rest before Game Two tonight so its all evenAdjustments will be made both waysGallent will make sure the Beermen stay focused from start to finishVictolero will try to bring back the fire in defense and hope it fuels the offenseA Game One advantage is nothingRemember what happened in the NCAA and UAAP Finals last yearAnd in the 1985 NBA Finals, Boston crushed the LA Lakers by 34 in Game One and wound up losing in six.

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