By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The Magnolia Hotshots Chicken Timplados grabbed a much-needed payback against the San Miguel Beermen, 88-80, to clinch their first win of the ongoing PBA Commissioner’s Cup grand finals last February 7, 2024, held at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
With the victory, Magnolia just avoided a 0-3 series deficit and officially got back into the series after getting stomped by the Beermen in the first two games.
To complete their Game 3 assignment, Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero had to tweak his strategy on how to defend San Miguel’s blazing offense.
The Chicken Timplados first adjusted on their coverage on San Miguel’s dominant import Bennie Boatwright who was shooting above 60% against Magnolia’s defense in the first two games.
Victolero deployed their import Tyler Bey on Boatwright where he successfully did his job after limiting San Miguel’s reinforcement to a dismal shooting night.
After Bey set the tone for the Chicken Timplados with his defensive tenacity, the locals then unloaded a scoring barrage that caught the Beermen off guard.
Six players were able to reach double digits in scoring for Magnolia spearheaded by veteran floor general Mark Barroca who tallied 20 points, six assists, four rebounds, and two steals.
Paul Lee also let his presence felt with 12 big points after two straight flat performances in the finals.
Bey, who averaged more than 18 points in the first two games, only delivered 11 markers for Magnolia but his defensive contribution became the story of the game.
Ian Sangalang and Aris Dionisio chipped in 11 points each while daredevil guard Jio Jalalon shared 10 points in the win.
San Miguel tried to claw their way back after trimming Magnolia’s lead to just five at the start of the final frame but a much-needed offensive counter from Lee and Dionisio steered the Chicken Timplados to a commanding 11-point lead in the last four minutes of the game.
Boatwright top-scored the Beermen with 27 points and 13 rebounds but needed more help from San Miguel’s locals as superstar center June Mar Fajardo only had 11 points.