Magnolia Pambansang Manok has rewritten the script - at least in the first three games of its title rematch with San Miguel Beer.
With all energy, all hard work and all effort, the Hotshots tripped the San Miguel Beermen, 86-82, Sunday to gain the 2-1 advantage in their 2019 PBA Philippine Cup title playoff at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
With San Miguel's Game Two triumph and the momentum it would bring, there's anticipation the Beermen would repeat their 2018 feat where they beat the Hotshots four in a row after dropping the series opener.
But the Hotshots had another thing in mind.
Mark Barroca put in a personal title series high of 22 points while Ian Sangalang and Rafi Reavis came through with double-double numbers as the Hotshots made their own fightback from their Game Two defeat, 101-108.
As in their Game One triumph (99-94), the Hotshots played tough defense and dragged the Beermen to a low-scoring battle that they won to inch to within two games of the coveted crown.
"It's all about character. That's what it takes - a lot of effort and a lot of heart," said Reavis, a big key as a defender to June Mar Fajardo and providing big bonus with 16 points and 15 rebounds.
"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," Reavis also said.
Barroca was at his best in the series, firing away 22 points, including charities that clinched Game Three.
The Beermen were waging their last hurrah, threatening at 79-83 when Barroca capped his game with three foul shots that made it 86-79 with time down to 9.3 seconds.
Sangalang had his own double-double game with 17 markers and 15 boards, and had the last laugh in his matchup with Arwind Santos this time.
And the Hotshots' confidence was back.
"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," said Reavis.
The Beermen took the opening quarter at 24-21, but the Hotshots seized the upper hand, 45-36, at the half and set the pace through the second half.
Magnolia 86 - Barroca 22, Sangalang 17, Reavis 16, Lee 8, Jalalon 7, Dela Rosa 7, Pascual 6, Ramos 3, Brondial 0, Simon 0, Melton 0.
San Miguel 82 - Santos 19, Fajardo 17, Romeo 15, Cabagnot 11, Lassiter 6, Ross 7, Standhardinger 7, Rosser 0, Nabong 0, Pessumal 0.
Quarterscores: 21-24, 36-45, 66-58, 86-82.