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MANILA, Philippines – Magnolia coach Chito Victolero has already seen enough of San Miguel import Bennie Boatwright to know that the Hotshots have their work cut out for them in their bid to end a five-year title drought.
Victolero braces for the worst as Magnolia battles Boatwright for the first time when the Hotshots and Beermen start their best-of-seven duel for the PBA Commissioner’s Cup crown on Friday, February 2, at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“We have yet to face him, but based on what we saw from him, I think he is one of the best imports who played here,” said Victolero in Filipino.
“I think he is in the top three – maybe one, two, or three.”
Boatwright took the league by storm when he replaced original San Miguel import Ivan Aska, showcasing a complete offensive game made deadlier by his 6-foot-8 frame.
A deadshot from beyond the arc, Boatwright sinks 5.4 three-pointers per game and averages 35.6 points, 12 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1 block as the Beermen reached the finals on a blistering nine-game winning streak.
Boatwright went on a sensational three-game run with at least 40 points and normed 29 points and 11.3 rebounds in an unprecedented semifinal sweep of Barangay Ginebra.
“He can play outside and inside. He can play defense also. I think our defense will be tested against him,” said Victolero.
But Victolero also has a gem of an import at his disposal in Tyler Bey.
A former NBA player for the Dallas Mavericks, Bey averages 26.9 points, 13.9 rebounds, 2.3 steals, 2.2 assists, and 1.3 blocks as Magnolia reached the championship round for the first time in over two years.
Falling short of the grand prize in their last two finals appearances, the Hotshots hope Bey is the missing piece in their campaign to capture their first title since the 2018 Governors’ Cup.
“I think it goes to Game 7. The big factor is the import. If Bennie dominates us, we do not have any chance. But if Tyler challenges Bennie every game, I think we have a very good chance,” said Victolero. – Rappler.com