Hotshots, bolts miss top four
(The Philippine Star) – November 12, 2020 – 12:00am
SMART CLARK GIGA CITY, Pampanga, Philippines — Magnolia and Meralco primed up for their coming stints in the PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinals against twice-to-beat rivals by extracting their seventh victories from separate opponents yesterday.
Magnolia, the bubble’s hottest team, scuttled also-ran Blackwater at the AUF Sports Arena Powered by Smart 5G, 95-80, to finish the elims with a sizzling six-game streak.
Meralco took care of business and defeated short-handed NorthPort, 80-73, to give itself the momentum of back-to-back triumphs going to its first all-Filipino playoffs appearance in five seasons.
The Hotshots and the Bolts ended up tied with the TNT Tropang Giga, the San Miguel Beermen and the Alaska Milk Aces at 7-4 but fell short of the coveted Top 4 seedings and bonuses due to inferior quotients in the tiebreak system.
Only No. 1 ranked Barangay Ginebra (8-3) and TNT (7-4) have secured the win-once incentives at presstime.
The remaining two would be determined after last night’s final match between Phoenix (7-3) and Rain or Shine (6-4).
While they battled it out at the upper half, NLEX (5-6) consoled itself with a winning exit via a 127-101 demolition of Terrafirma (1-10).
In what might be his farewell outing, grizzled veteran Asi Taulava banged in 11 points, including eight that sparked their second-quarter breakaway, plus four rebounds and three blocks as the Road Warriors ended their campaign with a bang.
Kiefer Ravena (23 spiked by five triples), Raul Soyud (16-5-5) and Jericho Cruz (12) led scoring for NLEX, which saw its late charge for a quarters slot quashed by ROS’ clinching 80-74 win over TNT Tuesday night.
“We didn’t make the adjustments and adapted to the bubble early enough. That’s why I felt kinapos kami. If we have two or three games more, I felt we’d still get better,” said NLEX coach Yeng Guiao.
NLEX joined the Elite (2-9), the Batang Pier (1-10) and the Dyip (1-10) in the delegation returning home to Manila.
In their first tourney under coach Nash Racela, the Elite wound up 10th, dropping all their next matches after a 2-1 bubble start.
The Hotshots worked hard and were satisfied with the outcome, even if they’re to miss the Top Four due to an inferior quotient.
They’re finishing either seventh or eighth.
“We gave emphasis on proper mindset. No matter what, we need to respect the game, our opponent and ourselves,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero. “We have to respect the game; ito nagbigay sa amin ng trabaho at eto ang dahilan kung bakit kami nandito sa bubble.”