Paul Lee took over in the closing moments to help his Magnolia Hotshots overcome the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 106-98, to take a 1-0 lead in their 2018 PBA Governors’ Cup semifinal series, Saturday night at Ynares Center.
The deadly combo guard scored nine of the Hotshots’ last 11 points to shut the door on the reigning two-time conference champions, who knocked within two with four minutes left after going down by as many as 14.
Lee finished with 27 points.
“When we started preparing, I told my players it’s a grinding game because of the emotions, the hype of this game … Stay in the game whatever happens, malamangan man kami or malamangan sila,” said head coach Chito Victolero.
Romeo Travis reset his PBA career-high to 37 points, along with 16 rebounds and five assists. Justin Melton chipped in 11 markers off the bench.
Defense was the name of the game for Magnolia, as usual. After allowing Ginebra to pour 39 points in the opening frame, they limited the crowd darlings to 16 points in the following period while scoring 32 for a 63-55 lead at the half.
The Hotshots also held Justin Brownlee scoreless in the second chapter after going off for 20 in the first.
Magnolia carried their momentum to the third quarter, much to the dismay of the Gin Kings, as they could not get things going – Brownlee himself found it hard to make buckets. The Hotshots would lead by as many as 14 a handful of times.
But the Barangay’s end-game wits came into play come the final canto. From a 10-point deficit, the Gin Kings made a rousing 14-6 rally – capped by a Japeth Aguilar lay-up – to knock within a field goal, 93-95, with 3:46 remaining.
Lee then showcased his takeover magic, and sent the Gin Kings reeling to the ground.
Victolero, however, remains wary even with the series lead. “Winning Game One, hindi yan assurance na mapupunta ka sa Finals. We need to win three games. Although there’s a percentage na nakuha namin, hindi yan assurance.”
Despite shooting 12-of-28 from the field, Brownlee still produced 37 points, 14 rebounds, and eight assists. Aguilar supplied 18 points and six boards, while LA Tenorio had 13 points and five dimes.
The Hotshots will look to post a commanding 2-0 lead on Monday, November 12, 7:00 PM at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
Magnolia 106 – Travis 37, Lee 27, Melton 11, Sangalang 7, Barroca 6, Dela Rosa 6, Jalalon 5, Pascual 4, Herndon 3, Brondial 0, Reavis 0.
Ginebra 98 – Brownlee 37, Aguilar 18, Tenorio 13, Slaughter 8, Thompson 7, Chan 5, Mariano 4, Ferrer 4, Mercado 2.
Quarterscores: 31-39, 63-55, 86-76, 106-98.
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