MANILA, Philippines – The Magnolia team that played in Game 3 of the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup finals bore little resemblance to the squad that won the first two games of the best-of-seven series.
After winning the first two games against the Alaska Aces, the Hotshots were a step slow on Sunday's game at the Ynares Center. They were sluggish on both ends of the floor, struggling to keep up with Alaska's shooting while also being cold from the field themselves.
Alaska wound up with a 100-71 win, in a game that was never close in the second half. The Aces led by as much as 36 points, and both coaches emptied their benches in the fourth quarter.
"The third quarter was when the game got away from us," said Magnolia import Romeo Travis, who had 18 points before exiting late in the third period after twisting his ankle.
"Bad possession on offense, followed by horrible possessions on defense. It's pretty much how you lose games," he explained.
Travis felt that statistics told the story of the game, which is that they "didn't play basketball the right way."
They only shot 33% from the field, and allowed Alaska to convert 48% of their attempts. They also committed 20 turnovers that the Aces turned into 23 points. Moreover, there was little ball movement among the Hotshots: as a team, they only had 11 assists.
"I think Chris (Banchero) had that (11 assists) by himself," Travis pointed out.
"And Mike Harris really killed us," he also admitted, referring to the Alaska import's 22-point explosion in the third quarter. "We really didn't respond as a unit, and that's what happens."
Harris had finished with 36 points and 18 rebounds, his most in the series after being limited to an average of 21 points and 14 boards in the first two games of the finals.
Travis, who memorable had a 50-point outing when Magnolia ousted Barangay Ginebra in the semifinals, refused to say outright that the Hotshots had been complacent heading into the game.
However, he admitted that it was something that he had been wary about.
"I tried to warn the guys, and I tried to warn myself about complacency, and just thinking we can show up and win," he acknowledged.
The import stressed that even with a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series, the Hotshots are "not a good enough team to do that."
"We're not talented enough to just show up and win. We have to work hard," he said emphatically. "And they outworked us on both ends and all facets of the game tonight."
The Hotshots now have two days to rest, recover, and prepare for Game 4, where Travis hopes to see their team bounce back.
"The game happened how it did, and luckily it's a series, it's one game," he said. "They responded, as we knew they would, and it's our turn to respond now."
Game 4 is on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.
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