Avoiding a 'hole'

THE chance of sending San Miguel Beer to the hole keeps coming back to Magnolia.

Now, it is for the Hotshots to strike the iron while it’s still hot.

The Hotshots try to fan the fire of their Game 3 win as they gun for a commanding 3-1 lead against the Beermen as they meet in Game 4 of their PBA Philippine Cup championship duel tonight at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

This is the second time that the Hotshots will try to sink the Beermen in the best-of-7 title showdown after they won Game 3 on Sunday, 86-82, to seize a 2-1 lead.

The Hotshots saw the same chance when they won the series opener using unrelenting defense that limited the offense-oriented Beermen to below 100.

But the Beermen bounced back mightily in Game 2 last May 3 and pulled off a 108-101 win which enabled them to avoid falling to 0-2 in the series.

The Hotshots may have dramatically lost some momentum which in turn shifted on the side of the highly-touted Beermen in last Sunday’s Game 3.

But then again, the Hotshots rose to the occasion, and, leaning on pure hard work and high energy, they repeated over the Beermen in Game 3, 86-82, in a victory where Marc Barroca scored 22 points.

Ian Sangalang and Rafi Reavis also came through with double-double numbers as the Hotshots made their own fightback from their Game Two defeat.

The Hotshots leaned on the same strategy they used in Game 1 – unrelenting defense – which dragged the Beermen again in a low-scoring ball game.

Reavis, at 6-8 is easily one of two big men coach Chito Victolero is using in his rotation (the other one being Ian Sangalang), succinctly put it: “It’s all about character.”

“That’s what it takes - a lot of effort and a lot of heart,” added Reavis, who is taking much of the burden defending SMB’s big man in June Mar Fajardo.

“We know how tough a team San Miguel is. They’ve won many championships, and it’s about respecting those guys, giving your best every night,” added the lanky Reavis, who finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds.

“For as long as we stay in what we do, just understanding who we are and what we’re good at - defense; as long as we stick with our roots, we’ll be fine,” stressed Reavis.

SMB coach Leo Austria meanwhile admitted his Beermen had dismal showing last time around, citing the poor marksmanship and anemic rebounding as their main shortcomings.

The Beermen finished with a horrendous 32.9 percent from the clip while totally beaten in rebound battle, 71-46, as the Hotshots dictated the tempo in Game 3.

“32.9 percent shooting is very low for us,” Austria said. “In the past, our shooting percentage in the championship is usually 40-plus to 50 percent.

“And we also allowed our opponent to have 25 more rebounds, it means that we’re outhustled,” he added.

Fajardo finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds but shot a woeful 4-of-11 from the field while committing six turnovers.

The rest of San Miguel’s go-to-guys also had off nights with Alex Cabagnot going 4-of-13, Chris Ross 2-of-10, Terrence Romeo 5-of-13, Arwind Santos 8-of-22 and Marcio Lassiter 2-of-9.