Why be "introboys" when you can be "PBA Champions."
There’s a word being associated with the Magnolia Hotshots recently, and it’s not a term of endearment.
While on the surface it seems harmless, this tag attached to the Hotshots makes fun of the team’s inability to cash in on early success. Magnolia is the Cody Rhodes of the PBA, it hasn’t finished its story yet.
Fair or unfair, “introboys” unfortunately has some semblance of truth.
Since Magnolia’s last championship in the 2018 Governors’ Cup, the Hotshots have stayed rather consistent as a playoff team.
Including this ongoing Commissioner’s Cup, they’ve made the Finals thrice, and the semifinals an additional three more times. They’ve been a top-3 seed in five of the last six conferences, with a couple no. 1 rankings sprinkled in.
No title though, hence the “introboys.”
Ironically, the closest they’ve been to the title since their last one was against San Miguel in the 2019 Philippine Cup, where they unfortunately blew a 3-2 series lead and lost Game 7 by one point.
In the Commissioner’s Cup Finals against the similarly high-powered Beermen, these Magnolia Hotshots can exorcise some ghosts, and beat the “introboys” allegations.
The case for the Hotshots to win the PBA Finals could be as simple as they’re due. But even without digging deep into stats and analytics, Magnolia’s aura this season is that of a team that has figured some things out.
Naysayers can discount the preseason PBA on Tour, but 11 straight wins are no fluke. Seven straight wins to open the regular season are likewise legitimate.
Ending the fairytale run of Phoenix Super LPG is a strong feat as well. You’d think if the Hotshots are truly “introboys,” then a series against some scrappy underdogs would have been the prime time for them to actually do “introboys” things.
In the Finals, Magnolia will once again rely on its bevy of guards. That’s the team’s strength, and in this conference, the trio of Mark Barroca, Paul Lee, and Jio Jalalon have been incredible, nagging injuries notwithstanding.
All three have toughened it out to play all 16 games so far, and they are the engine that makes the Hotshots go. Paul Lee (11.6 points) can still be as clutch as ever, and both Mark Barroca (13.4 points and 1.2 steals) and Jio Jalalon (10.9 points and 1.5 steals) remain dual threats.
In the Finals, Magnolia will also feature the likely Best Import in Tyler Bey. A bundle of energy, Bey looks to be a perfect fit on a Hotshots team filled with savvy vets.
The Hotshots will need all of Bey’s 26.9 points, 13.9 points, 2.2 assists, 2.3 steals, and 1.3 blocks to help take down San Miguel’s vaunted “Death 15.”
Putting things in perspective, it’s a little wild that Magnolia somehow earned the “introboys” tag in the first place. They have a championship group, boosted by one Calvin Abueva.
They have a genius coach in Chito Victolero, and they have proven to find gems as imports, like Bey, and Nick Rakocevic, and Mike Harris before.
They have the wins. They actually have everything, which unfortunately includes the unflattering tag too.
But the time is now, to beat the “introboys” allegations, and replace the word associated to them as “champions.”