PBA Friday: ‘The Cyclone’ ravages just in the nick of time

PBA-Jalalon

Two wins down, two more to go.

It sure wasn’t pretty, but the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok managed to grind out a close 77-71 victory over the Alaska Aces to go up two games to none in the best-of-seven 2018 PBA Governors’ Cup Finals.

Here are some takeaways from what went down at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last night, courtesy of FOX Sports Philippines.

Jalalon comes through in the clutch

Jio Jalalon was not much of factor offensively for majority of the game, but he certainly made his presence felt when it mattered the most.

The diminutive guard — who only made one of his eight attempts heading  into the final three minutes of regulation —  scored five of his seven markers in the clutch to help the Hotshots build enough separation from the Aces.

His lean-in bank shot at the two-minute mark of the fourth quarter finally gave Magnolia the lead, 73-71.

Going slow ain’t a problem for Magnolia

PBA-Melton

Contrary to the high volume action in Game One, both teams employed a slower pace in Game 2 and figured in a defensive chess match.

Magnolia made 45 percent of their field goal tries (32-71), while Alaska struggled at 29-for-78 for only 37 percent.

Neither squad also got hot from beyond the arc, as Alaska only nailed five of their 22 tries from three, while Magnolia took significantly less and drained 4-out-of-11. They were tied at points in the paint at 38 apiece.

The Hotshots’ bench also outscored their counterparts, 38-27, led by Ian Sangalang’s 11 points and five boards.

Paul Lee also once again played a reserve role for Magnolia, going 4-for-13 from the field for eight markers in 30 minutes of action.

Cookies!

Perhaps one, if not the, biggest key from Magnolia’s win was their proficiency in taking possessions away from Alaska.

Leading the league in total steals per game in the eliminations at 10.65 per contest, coach Chito Victolero’s boys doubled that number and forced Alaska to turn the ball over 26 times.

Romeo Travis led the charge with four thefts, while Jalalon, Lee, and Melton terrorized the Aces’ ball handlers with three steals each.

Harris needs help ASAP

PBA-Harris

The same old nightmare that plagued Alaska last night was their inability to get quality production from their locals.

Mike Harris again carried the torch with a solid double-double performance of 22 points and 13 rebounds, but Vic Manuel was the only other red shirt who (barely) scored in double figures with 10.

Magnolia’s defense has done a good job of denying Simon Enciso open looks from the three-point arc, while the league’s leading assist man Chris Banchero could only muster one dime last night.

Will Ynares continue to be kind to Travis?

PBA-Travis

The Ynares Center might not be as lavish as the Mall of Asia Arena or the Smart Araneta Coliseum, but Magnolia’s import Travis just happens to ball out even more when in Antipolo.

The “Southpaw Outlaw” managed to reset his PBA career high twice in that arena — punctuated by the 50 point explosion he had against Ginebra in the semis.

With Game 3 set to take place at Ynares on Sunday, expect Travis to one-up the 24-point, nine-rebound performance he had last night.

(Images from PBA Media Group)
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