Mar 11, 2018

Simon believes Magnolia still in good position to make it to title series

Peter June Simon said the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok will need all motivation they can get to bounce back from Saturday's 88-87 loss to the NLEX Road Warriors in Game 1 of their PBA Philippine Cup semi-final series marred by a knee injury sustained by veteran Marc Pingris.

The Hotshots not only saw Pingris leave the game on a stretcher with 4:39 left in the fourth quarter but also lost a slim lead that allowed the Road Warriors to pull off an escape act courtesy of a go-ahead three by Alex Mallari and a pair of crucial plays by rookie Kiefer Ravena.

Simon's 20 points, which came on the night Paul Lee was held to a 3-of-10 shooting for eight points, went for naught as Magnolia tries to pick up the pieces and avoid falling to a 0-2 hole in Monday's second game at the Mall of Asia Arena.

"Pang-fourth time na namin to sa semis kaya lahat ng motivation siguro gamitin na namin kasi sobrang hungry na din kaming makadating ng finals ulit," said Simon, referring to the Hotshots' semifinal losses in all three conferences last season.

The Hotshots have never made the finals since in the 2014 Governors' Cup when the team then-known as the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers completed the PBA's fifth grand slam under coach Tim Cone.

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Simon feels Magnolia remains in a good position to end the dryspell, but will need not just Pingris but also Mark Barroca and Justin Melton to recover from their injuries.

Barroca and Melton suffered apparent ankle injuries during Game 1.

"Mahaba-haba pa din naman yung series, yung problema lang medyo undermanned kami ngayon, and hopefully makarecover agad yung may mga injuries," Simon said. (JT)