By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter
THE Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok are out to create further distance from the Alaska Aces in their best-of-seven Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Governors’ Cup finals series when they collide anew in Game Two today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Took the series-opener in convincing fashion, 100-84, on Wednesday, Magnolia is now gunning to make it a 2-0 series lead in their scheduled 7 p.m. encounter and move a step closer to bagging another PBA title.
Magnolia had a fiery start in Game One and just did not surrender control the rest of the way.
Alaska made attempts to rally back, particularly in the fourth period when they came to within eight points, but could not complete any comeback as Magnolia reasserted command when Alaska came too near for comfort.
Import Romeo Travis led the way for the Hotshots with 29 points and 13 rebounds with Mark Barroca adding 16 points, 10 coming in the fourth period to douse cold water on the Alaska rally.
Paul Lee had 14 points while Jio Jalalon had all-around numbers of seven points, 12 rebounds and nine assists for Magnolia.
Alaska, meanwhile, was paced by import Mike Harris with 20 points and 15 boards with Chris Banchero finishing with 12 points.
“The long rest helped us a lot as we were able to prepare fully for this game,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero following their Game One win.
“The series is far from over though but we will continue to push ourselves to put us in a good position to succeed,” he added.
For Alaska coach Alex Compton, the Hotshots deserved the Game One victory being the better team on Wednesday.
“They just outworked us in this game,” Mr. Compton shared as he summed it up what happened to them in the series-opener.
“We did not have a great start and just could not recover from it. We have to (do) better next game and play up to their level to be able to compete,” the Alaska coach added.
The Magnolia-Alaska finals series was put off for a fortnight to give way to the FIBA World Cup campaign of the national team.
It marks the first time that the two teams are meeting in the championship since the 2009-10 Philippine Cup finals where Magnolia, then playing under Purefoods, swept Alaska, 4-0.
Meanwhile, after their University Athletic Association of the Philippines campaign ended on Wednesday, graduating player Paul Desiderio of Season 81 runner-up University of the Philippines said he will be filing his application for the PBA Rookie Draft.
“I will now file for the draft. There is nothing left for me to do,” said Mr. Desiderio as met members of media after their season ended.
Mr. Desiderio joins the draft list that also includes Ray Parks, Jr., Robert Bolick, CJ Perez, Bong Quinto, JP Calvo, Michael Calisaan, MJ Ayaay, Teytey Teodoro and Abu Tratter, among others.
“I have no preference for any PBA team. I will give my all on the court to whoever selects me in the draft,” Mr. Desiderio said.