Phoenix def Magnolia, 103-85 [PBA S48 Comm’s Cup SF G3 | Jan. 28, 2024]

Magnolia could make it to the PBA Commissioner’s Cup finals if it wins anew over Phoenix Super LPG Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Coach Chito Victolero and his charges know that completing that one step should be the hardest one yet.

“That’s the hardest game, the close-out game,” said Victolero following an 82-78 win last Friday that gave them a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five semifinals duel.

“‘Yun ‘yung pinakamahirap na game sa lahat ng series, ‘yung pag-close out ng series,” echoed Paul Lee, who has played a vital role in the series with a clutch triple in Game 2 following an equally crucial assist, also in the stretch, in the opener that led to an 82-79 decision.

“Mahirap ding kalaban ‘yung team na back against the wall,” added Lee. “S’yempre ibibigay na nilang lahat. ‘Yung energy nila, nandiyan lahat yan. Kailangan ready lang kami. I think different Phoenix ‘yung maglalaro sa Sunday.”

The last time Magnolia pulled off a three-game sweep in a best-of-five was in the 1993 All-Filipino Cup semis, when it was still known as Coney Island.

A sweep would indeed be sweet, but Victolero is more focused the fine-tuning his side still needs.

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