IT seems closing out a series is the hardest part, something that Magnolia is targeting today.
“We’ll try our best to close out tomorrow (today),” said Hotshots coach Chito Victolero in a text message to People’s Journal yesterday.
“The players are doing fine, at okey naman mindset nila,” added Victolero.
The Hotshots will try wrap up the best-of-7 semifinal series as they play an embattled but dangerous Rain or Shine team in Game 6 set at 7 p.m. at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
Magnolia, formerly Purefoods franchise, is owner of six All-Filipino titles, which is the second best in the league next to San Miguel Beer which owns eight AF crowns.
The Hotshots had their last taste of championship during their grand slam year in 2014, although they made the finals of the prestigious conference last season but lost to the Beermen.
Now, the Hotshots could seal a return trip to the finals but will have to be ready against the Elasto Painters who can only be expected to also give their all in both ends to stay alive.
The Hotshots, who started 0-2 in the series, defeated the Elasto Painters three in a row on Wednesday, 82-74, and moved on verge of a second straight stint in the kickoff conference.
If necessary, a deciding Game 7 will be played on Sunday.
The Hotshots seemed to have mastered the Painters, outsmarting and outplaying them in the clutch in Game 5 for a 3-2 lead.
Only Marc Barroca and Jio Jalalon finished in double figures for Magnolia with 14 points each, but the rest of the Hotshots stepped up in offense in the crucial win last Wednesday.
“It wasn’t an easy game. It’s really a grinding game because we play the same game. Kaya talagang pahirapan,” said Barroca, who also had 14 assists.
The Hotshots led by as many as 13 points in the third period but the E-Painters clawed back in the game and engaged them in a tight battle down the stretch.
But Magnolia had Jalalon to thank for after personally putting ROS away in the final minute with a perfect feed to Rafi Reavis, who then translated it to huge underneath basket that made it 82-74.
Three Elasto Painters actually finished in twin digits, including Gabe Norwood, James Yap, and Mark Borboran, but RoS failed to convert when needed most.
RoS’ Beau Belga is well convinced the Hotshots are showing their vast experience in the series, something which lacks RoS.
“Mas experienced yung mga taga-Magnolia when it comes to this kind of atmosphere and most of our guys are bagito so less experience when it comes to this,” admitted Belga.
“And All-Filipino tournament ito. Next conference, di ka na magmamatter kasi may import ka na magdodominate. Ito talaga yung pinaglalabanan sa liga, yung All-Filipino Cup,” added Belga.