Failure to wall-in Jericho Cruz led to Hotshots defeat in Game 5


Magnolia import Tyler Bey kept it simple when asked about what went wrong with the Hotshots in Game 5 of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup Finals on Sunday.

“We can’t just let guys go off for 30,” he told reporters with a long face on the heels of a 108-98 defeat at Smart Araneta Coliseum. “We got to respect everybody on their team and I just feel like we didn’t respect them today, and that was our problem.”

Bey rued his squad’s inability to clamp down on Jericho Cruz, the San Miguel spark plug who hit made it rain that night on the way to matching his career-best outing of 30 points.

“I feel like we didn’t adjust quick enough,” he said. “Cruz got off. He had eight for what, 14? But I know he had a great game. He [did] what he had to do.”

Bey had 34 points, eight rebounds, three steals and a block. But each time he brought Magnolia closer, Cruz was there to hit a three-pointer. Open, contested, off-balanced—it hardly mattered for the two-time Mr. Quality Minutes awardee, who helped lead the Beermen to the doorstep of a league-best 29th PBA title.

Still optimistic

“I feel like we didn’t adjust quick enough. We took him lightly and that was our problem. Like I said, we didn’t respect him, and we paid for it,” he said.

It wasn’t only Cruz that Magnolia wasn’t able to account for as Simon Enciso chipped in 15 more into the scoring effort to help San Miguel pull through. The Hotshots are now trailing in the series, but Bey pointed out that they’ve been in this perilous spot before. And that is what’s keeping the do-it-all import optimistic ahead of Wednesday’s potential clincher.

“We just have to come out, do what we did the last two games before this one. I feel good about this conference bro. I mean we came down 0-2, we can do it again, we can win two more games,” he said.

“Why not? We’re a great team. I don’t feel like our backs are against the wall. Obviously, we’re down one [game] and they got one more to go. But I believe in this team, I believe in the coaching staff, and I believe in myself so we’re pretty comfortable,” Bey added. INQ

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