Having been soundly beaten by Phoenix in their previous matchup, Magnolia will attempt to clinch the series anew when they face the Fuel Masters in Game 4 of the PBA Season 48 Commissioner’s Cup semifinals on Wednesday, 8:00pm at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Hotshots held a commanding 21-point lead early on before the Fuel Masters stormed back in the second half, eventually coasting to an easy 103-85 victory.
Despite the lopsided nature of the loss, Magnolia remains the favorite against Phoenix, given the Hotshots’ veteran-heavy roster.
While young American import Tyler Bey has anchored the team on both ends, Magnolia has a wealth of playoff experience in multi-time All-Star Paul Lee, Mark Barroca, Jio Jalalon, Calvin Abueva and Ian Sangalang.
A win by Magnolia would send them to the best-of-seven championship series against the San Miguel Beermen, who swept defending champion Brgy. Ginebra 3-0 last Sunday to book the first Finals ticket.
As for Phoenix, import Johnathan Williams is undoubtedly the heartbeat of the Fuel Masters with his leadership and intangibles, even though they are one of the youngest teams in the league.
The former Los Angeles Laker has veteran guard RJ Jazul as his main support system, with the duo orchestrating Phoenix’s huge comeback win in Game 3.