The Magnolia Hotshots had to survive a major scare by the Blackwater Elite to come out with a 103-99 victory and to book the first ticket to the 2018 PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals, Tuesday at SMART Araneta Coliseum.
Magnolia lost hold of a 13-point lead and even went down by seven midway into the final frame, but they responded with a 16-5 run to take a 100-96 lead. They then warded off Blackwater in the dying seconds to seal the win.
“It’s nice to be back in the semis,” said Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero. “Na-miss namin semis last conference.”
Romeo Travis powered the Hotshots with a triple-double of 18 points, 20 rebounds, and 12 assists. Paul Lee topscored with 22 points alongside 12 rebounds, while Ian Sangalang produced 18 markers and eight boards.
Magnolia got off to a good start and even led by 13 points early, but Blackwater found ways to come back. And come the final quarter, the Elite made a spirited run and even took a 91-84 lead approaching the midway mark.
Then the Hotshots’ experience came to play afterwards, responding with a big 16-5 rally – ended by a Jio Jalalon inside bucket off a Travis bounce pass – to take a four-point cushion, 100-96, with 1:23 remaining in the game.
The Elite still fought back and inched within a point, 99-100, as Paul Zamar made a huge trey with 33.4 seconds left. The door was left open for them to come back when Travis only split his freebies 20 seconds later.
Unfortunately, Nard Pinto – a 65 percent-shooter from beyond the arc this conference – missed his triple from the corner with five ticks left. Lee was able to grab the rebound, and he calmly sank his charities to finish the game off.
PJ Simon added 16 in the win.
Import Henry Walker paced Blackwater with 18 points, eight rebounds, and five assists. Center Poy Erram had 15 points and 19 rebounds, while Zamar supplied 13 points. Allein Maliksi provided 12 markers and six caroms.
The Hotshots will battle the winner of the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel–NLEX Road Warriors series. The Gin Kings own a twice-to-beat advantage.
Magnolia 103 – Lee 22, Travis 18, Sangalang 18, Simon 16, Barroca 9, Melton 8, Brondial 4, Reavis 3, Dela Rosa 3, Jalalon 2.
Blackwater 99 – Walker 18, Erram 15, Zamar 13, Maliksi 12, Belo 11, Digregorio 8, Pinto 7, Sumang 7, Al-Hussaini 4, Javier 4, Jose 0.
Quarterscores: 32-22, 55-47, 76-78, 103-99.
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