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Bey helps Magnolia draw first blood

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF PBA TYLER Bey posts a double-double performance to lift Magnolia to an 82-79 win over Phoenix Super LPG in Game 1 of their PBA Commissioner’s Cup best-of-five semifinal series yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Tyler Bey delivered the crucial baskets to lift Magnolia to an 82-79 win over Phoenix Super LPG in Game 1 of their Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup best-of-five semifinal series yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The do-it-all American converted a three-point play off a pass from Paul Lee in the final 1:27 to shatter the 78-78 deadlock and secure the win in this tightly-contested, defense-oriented series opener.

Then, Bey knocked down a free throw with only 3.8 seconds left before watching Jason Perkins botch a potential game-tying three-pointer that put the Hotshots two wins away from returning to the finals for the first time since losing the Philippine Cup title to TNT Tropang Giga in 2021.

Still, it was defense that keyed Magnolia’s triumph.

The Hotshots limited the Fuel Masters to below 80 points as they focused on putting clamps on high-scoring import Johnathan Williams.

A former player of the Los Angeles Lakers in the National Basketball Association, Williams was held scoreless in the first half en route to a forgettable 11-point effort with 18 rebounds and seven assists.

Magnolia coach Chito Victolero stressed that their game plan was focused on limiting Williams after seeing him dominate in their quarterfinal series against Meralco.

“We know he (Williams) dominated in their series against Meralco. We just wanted to limit his activity on the floor, limit his offensive rebounding and his contribution on the offensive end,” said Victolero, who last won a PBA title in Governors’ Cup in 2018.

Bey finished with 23 points, highlighted by pivotal baskets in the crucial stretch, while the rest of the Hotshots stepped up with Mark Barroca scoring 10 points, with two big steals, while Paul Lee added 11 markers.

On the other hand, with Williams bleeding for points, Jason Perkins picked up the scoring cudgels, finishing with 25 points for the Fuel Masters, who are looking to advance to the finals for the first time in franchise history.

“But we also need to come up with a much better game plan against Perkins,” Victolero said.

“Perkins did a great job today heling the import. We need to contain Perkins. Let’s see how we can make the adjustments.”

Victolero added that they marched into battle with a defensive mindset, knowing that they will not emerge successful if they will engage the Fuel Masters to a shooting contest.

“It’s our game plan to limit them below 90 points. We’ve been winning games all conference all conference long because of our defense,” Victolero said. “We’re the No. 1 team in defense.”

“We want our team to be like that and hopefully, we can do it all series long.”

Despite suffering a sorry setback, the Fuel Masters still made a lot of heads turn as their shock troopers managed to outscore the Hotshots’ bench players, 74-35.

Phoenix coach Jamike Jarin is hoping that their youth movement would somehow make a difference now that the series is being played every two days.

“This will give our younger unit a chance to endure the grueling phase of the series. We can only hope that we can sustain that high level of energy and use that to our advantage because Magnolia is a more experienced team,” said Jarin, whose wards got outhustled by the Hotshots with 16 second chance points and 12 fastbreak points.

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