PBA: Magnolia weathers Mikey Williams' explosion to win Game 3

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 24 2021 07:16 PM | Updated as of Oct 24 2021 07:56 PM

The Magnolia Hotshots got back in the best-of-seven Finals series with a Game 3 victory. PBA Media Bureau
The Magnolia Hotshots got back in the best-of-seven Finals series with a Game 3 victory. PBA Media Bureau

MANILA (UPDATED) - The Magnolia Hotshots survived a record-setting performance by TNT rookie Mikey Williams to win Game 3 of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals, 106-98, on Sunday night at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.

The Hotshots worked their way back in the best-of-seven series, trimming the Tropang GIGA's lead to 2-1 after losing the first two games by big margins.

To do so, they had to weather a superb outing by Williams, who exploded for 39 points on 14-of-25 shooting from the field, making 10 of his 18 three-pointers in the game. 

According to PBA statistician Fidel Mangonon III, Williams tallied the highest-scoring game by a rookie in the PBA Finals since Erik Menk scored 42 points for Tanduay in the 1999 All-Filipino Cup against Shell. His 10 3-pointers were also the most in a Finals game.

Magnolia, in contrast, used a balanced scoring effort to offset Williams, with Paul Lee (21 points), Ian Sangalang (20), Mark Barroca (16) and Calvin Abueva (14) all reaching double digits in the victory.

"We changed up our defense," said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero after the game. "Parang medyo maganda 'yung depensa namin compared to the last two games. But ang importante lang dito, we have the proper mindset."

"Sabi ko nga sa kanila, we're here in the finals because of our defense. So, we just go back to basics," he added.

Crucially, Magnolia had a good start to the contest. After allowing the Tropang GIGA to score 40 points in the first quarter of Game 2 last Friday, they won the opening frame, 26-20, in Game 3.

That allowed the Hotshots to stay in command even after Williams exploded for 18 points in the third quarter alone, with the rookie making six of his eight three-point attempts. Lee and Sangalang combined for 19 points in the third period to keep TNT at bay and give Magnolia an 82-77 lead heading into the final quarter.

The Hotshots scored the first 13 points of the fourth quarter to open up a 95-77 lead, their biggest of the game. However, Williams sparked TNT's comeback, helped along by Magnolia's fouls that allowed the Tropang GIGA to earn free points at the line.

A big three-pointer by Williams -- his 10th -- made it a three-point game, 98-95, with still 1:11 to play.

But on the other end, Barroca -- dealing with a hamstring injury -- used a Rafi Reavis screen to put up his signature floater that restored a 100-95 lead with 52 seconds to go. Magnolia forced Jayson Castro into a missed three-pointer on the next TNT possession, and two free throws by Rome dela Rosa made it a seven point game, 102-95, with 37 seconds left.

TNT gave itself a chance when Dave Marcelo knocked down a three-pointer off a timeout, but dela Rosa and Sangalang were steady at the free throw line to ice the game.

"We treat it as one game at a time. We've been here before, and we experienced it," said Victolero of the Hotshots, who are making a third appearance in the All-Filipino finals in the last four seasons. 

"Hopefully, we can get a good rest tonight and tomorrow, so that we can prepare for Wednesday's game."

Magnolia, after shooting just 39% in Game 3, made 50% of their field goals this time around, and scored 23 points from TNT's 17 turnovers. They were also helped by their superb free throw shooting as the Hotshots knocked down 27 of their 29 freebies in the game.

Apart from Williams, TNT's other scoring options were shackled. Roger Pogoy had 14 points on 4-of-11 shooting, and Poy Erram had 10 points on 5-of-11 from the field. Castro had nine points and six rebounds, but also four turnovers. 

TNT also lost Troy Rosario to a hand injury in the third quarter, with the forward dislocating his left pinky finger after a collision with Magnolia's Jackson Corpuz.

The Scores :

MAGNOLIA 106 – Lee 21, Sangalang 20, Barroca 16, Abueva 14, Jalalon 11, Dela Rosa 9, Corpuz 7, Reavis 5, Ahanmisi 3, Melton 0

TNT 98 – M.Williams 39, Pogoy 14, Erram 10, Castro 9, Heruela 8, Marcelo 7, K.Williams 4, Reyes 3, Rosario 2, Khobuntin 2, Montalbo 0, Exciminiano 0, Mendoza 0

Quarters : 26-20, 52-46, 82-77, 106-98