The Magnolia Pambansang Manok Hotshots have changed the script of last year's all-Filipino finals. The Hotshots now look to write an entirely different story, looking for a commanding 3-1 advantage versus the San Miguel Beermen in their title rematch.
SMB coach Leo Austria rued his troops clearly being outhustled by the Hotshots, mentioning the huge 25-rebound advantage enjoyed by Magnolia in Game Three.
"For as long as we stay in what we do best, 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 Magnolia team captain Rafi Reavis, hopeful they can take full control of the PBA Philippine Cup best-of-seven series after Game Four Wednesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Tip off is at 7 p.m.
The Beermen are as hopeful but they know they have their job cut out for them, considering the heart, effort and energy the Hotshots are putting on the floor.
The Hotshots, on sheer hard work, took Game One (99-94) and Game Three (86-82).
Austria also noted how the Hotshots stymied their offense, holding them to a mere 32.9-percent clip.
But having gone through a lot of battles and overcoming the toughest of all the challenges, the SMB aces are convinced they're still very much in the series and their five-peat ambition still very much achievable.
"We're going to tie this series and take Game Four. Then it will be down to a best-of-three affair," said forward Arwind Santos.
"Positive kami, kaya namin gawin 'yan na 2-2," said center June Mar Fajardo.
Santos, however, admits they have to find ways to stop the Hotshots from dictating the tempo of the game with their defense.
"Hindi ako naniniwala na they can stop us all the time throughout the series. But we need to find ways (to beat their defense)," said Santos.
For the Hotshots, it's about respecting San Miguel as a great team and doing what it takes to overcome the odds.
"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," said Reavis.
"It's about character. That's what it takes - a lot of effort and a lot of heart," said Reavis, a key in the series with the mammoth effort he's putting up to neutralize Fajardo.
Reavis and the other Magnolia frontline players have had their success against the SMB behemoth.
"Pinahihirapan nila akong kumuha ng rebounds kasi ang daming katawan ang inilalagay nila sa akin. Kailangan din namin mag-gang rebound kagaya ng ginagawa nila," said Fajardo. (SB)