Magnolia did the math and figured a few people short did not exactly mean a disadvantage in manpower.
“Coach told us that there are only five of us on the floor at a time, so it doesn’t matter if we’re missing some of our key players,” said veteran playmaker Mark Barroca, who keyed a 95-77 rout of Phoenix on Friday in the PBA Philippine Cup at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
“As long as the five on the floor is solid, we’ll be fine,” added Barroca, who finished with 21 points, five rebounds and six assists to help the Hotshots fill the void left by Paul Lee and Calvin Abueva.
Magnolia also drew double-digit outings from Aris Dionisio, Jio Jalalon, Jackson Corpuz and Ian Sangalang to bury the Fuel Masters in holes as deep as 27 points on the way to rising to 3-3 (win-loss).
And that was exactly what the doctor ordered, according to Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero.
“We talked about it before the game—that we’re now in the middle of the tournament,” he said. “It’s time to level up our game, level up our execution, our being smart. That’s why we had a good start.”
Magnolia—finalist of last year’s all-Filipino conference—came out the gates hard, using an 11-0 run to open the contest and take the wind out of Phoenix’s sails early despite the absence of its key starters. Lee was out of the game due to a back problem while Abueva was serving his one-game suspension for his behavior in a victory over Barangay Ginebra last week.
Also out for the Hotshots was backup guard Jerrick Ahanmisi.
“Hopefully, before the elimination round ends, we are able to be complete. That’s only going to improve our run,” said Victolero.
Javee Mocon led Phoenix with 19 points while Sean Manganti added 11 as the Fuel Masters dropped to 2-3.
Later in the night, Barangay Ginebra got 20 points and 10 rebounds from Christian Standhardinger to stop San Miguel Beer, 75-72.
The Gin Kings hiked their record to 4-1 while dealing the Beermen their first loss in four games this conference.
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