The long break did no harm to the Hotshots, as Magnolia took round one in the 2018 PBA Governors’ Cup Finals. They weathered the Alaska Aces’ fourth quarter fightback, 100-84, Wednesday night at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Magnolia banked on a 15-0 start – the second-best start in the Finals, next to the 17-0 openers made by TNT KaTropa back in the 2017 Commissioner’s Cup and by Barangay Ginebra the following year – and never looked back.
“We’re happy to win Game One, but it’s only the start,” said head coach Chito Victolero. “We need to prepare hard again tomorrow. Again, our mindset is do-or-die; try to figure out kung anong nagawa naming ‘di maganda.”
Romeo Travis led the Hotshots with 29 points, along with 13 rebounds and five assists.
Magnolia’s lead ballooned to as big as 21 with 10:01 left in the fourth quarter, but the Aces turned to their bread-and-butter that is defense. Their efforts got them to within eight, 76-84, after Chris Banchero’s lay-up with 4:23 to go.
But fortunately for Magnolia, veteran Mark Barroca took matters into his own hands, scoring and assisting in the Hotshots’ 9-0 blitz to give his side a 93-76 lead with 3:11 left to play and to shut the door close for Alaska for good.
Barroca finished with 16 points, two rebounds, three assists, and six steals.
“He is a veteran and he knows how to play in a championship series,” lauded Victolero of the seven-year veteran. “He did a good job on both ends of the floor … I really expect my guards to match up well against the guards of Alaska.”
Paul Lee produced 14 points in the win, while Ian Sangalang added 10 markers. Jio Jalalon flirted with a triple-double as he made seven points, 12 rebounds, and nine assists.
Best Import award frontrunner Mike Harris led the Milkmen with 20 points and 15 rebounds. Chris Banchero supplied 12 points and six assists, while Jeron Teng chimed in 10 markers, four rebounds, and four assists.
Vic Manuel, who’s reportedly just coming off a flu, only had six points in over 16 minutes of playing time.
Game Two will be on Friday, December 7, at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
Magnolia 100 – Travis 29, Barroca 16, Lee 14, Sangalang 10, Herndon 9, Melton 7, Reavis 4, Simon 4, Brondial 0, Dela Rosa 0, Pascual 0, Mendoza 0.
Alaska 84 – Harris 20, Banchero 12, Teng 10, Enciso 9, Casio 7, Racal 6, Manuel 6, Pascual 5, Thoss 3, Galliguez 3, Cruz 3, Baclao 0, Exciminiano 0, Andrada 0.
Quarterscores: 24-14, 52-40, 77-58, 100-84.
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