With a handful of injuries greatly affecting their schemes, the Magnolia Hotshots have been digging deep into their rotation this 2018 Philippine Cup semis. And in Game Three, they have found a gem in Rome De La Rosa.
The six-foot-four swingman was part of the starting five for Game Three Wednesday night, and he made the most out of it as he produced 17 points on an excellent 5-of-8 shooting from the floor together with seven rebounds.
And his efforts paid off greatly in the end as the Hotshots won, 106-99, to take a 2-1 lead in their race-to-four series with the NLEX Road Warriors.
“It’s just about stepping up,” shared the four-year pro after the tightly-contested match at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
“It’s really a time for us to step up so next man up, and just trying to be aggressive out there.”
De La Rosa’s outing was highlighted in the fourth quarter, where he contributed in the 11-4 rally led by Jio Jalalon and Ian Sangalang — the rally that doused cold water to the wily Road Warriors.
“Jio played a heck of a game, Ian played well down there in the post. [We took it] One possession at a time. That was very important for us going down the stretch. We just have to take care of the game,” said the 27-year-old of that run.
“We knew NLEX is gonna come out to play really today.”
Game Three had become De La Rosa’s best outing in the semis after averaging just 7.5 points in the first two games. For him, this wouldn’t be possible if it were not for the trust his teammates and coaches have given to him.
“Everyone from the coaching staff and my teammates, grabe yung tiwala nila. Gusto kong suklian,” said the product of the San Beda program, who is now putting up 10.7 markers and 4.3 rebounds so far in the series.
With the way games have been played in this particular tiff — and even with the Hotshots gaining a 2-1 lead — the possibility of having a long series now looms. De La Rosa is aware of it, and he and Magnolia have to be ready with it.
“Yeah. You never know,” the California-born cager shared. “NLEX is a tough team. They’re going to want to come out strong next game.
“We have to be ready for that, make whatever adjustments we have to make.”