Magnolia finished strong and beat Barangay Ginebra, 102-92, to snap its three-game slide in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup, Sunday night at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center in Pampanga.
The Hotshots overcame a 10-point deficit in the third before turning it up in crunch time en route to owning this unique chapter of their rivalry with the Gin Kings, who held an 11-game elimination round win streak over them prior.
“Yesterday sinabi ko, ‘This is our breakout game.’ Actually parang do-or-die sa’min ‘to because we’re 1-4, and we needed to bounce back talaga,” said head coach Chito Victolero moments after the win that hiked their card to 2-4.
Paul Lee spearheaded that third quarter assault after a slow start into the match, scoring seven points in a 13-0 blitz that turned a 65-75 deficit to a 78-75 lead for the Hotshots with 25.1 seconds on the clock.
The Barangay kept the game within reach, until the gunslinging guard’s freebies with 1:55 remaining sparked Magnolia’s finishing 10-0 run — capped by a Mark Barroca trey — to make it 102-89 with just 25 ticks left.
Lee finished with 15 points as he was among the six Hotshots who finished in double figures in the skid-ending victory. The nine-year pro also collected three rebounds, three assists, and three steals.
“Yung three losses namin, we felt pwedeng nanalo kami. Nung last two, three minutes of the game, doon nawawala ‘yung mental toughness namin. That’s not our character,” the 2018 Coach of the Year recalled.
“I talked to the guys and told them, ‘Hindi tayo tambak, hindi tayo talo.’ We control the game for the first 45 minutes of the game, ang problema hindi lang namin ma-finish ‘yung game. So I’m very happy [with tonight’s result].”
Jackson Corpuz, who was struggling in their first few games in the bubble, top-scored for Magnolia with 20 points on 66-percent shooting and had six rebounds in just his first experience of the Manila Clasico.
“Struggle talaga ako eh kasi [magmula[ first game pa lang namin, up-down, up-down ako. Nakatulong talaga sa akin si Paul, ginagabayan niya ‘ko. [Sabi niya sa’kin] Relax ka lang,” said the PCU product.
Barroca also had 15 points with five assists and three boards. Ian Sangalang flirted with a double-double as he made 14 points and rebounds, while Rome Dela Rosa and Chris Banchero addd 13 and 10 markers, respectively.
“Sabi ko nga sa kanila every game I’m very proud, kaya lang hindi lang talaga namin ma-finish. So ito at least na-finish namin, it’s a breakout game for us and hopefully madala namin ‘yung momentum to our next game,” Victolero said.
Stanley Pringle led Ginebra with 24 points in the loss that foiled the Gin Kings’ bid of extending their unbeaten to run to five this conference. Japeth Aguilar, meanwhile, had 14 points and eight rebounds.
Scottie Thompson supplied 10 points, 14 rebounds, and seven assists for the Barangay.
The Magnolia-Ginebra clash was the lone game of Sunday as the Blackwater-Rain or Shine match got postponed earlier in the day after the league learned that one of the Elite players tested positive for COVID-19.
With such development, it remains uncertain whether or not the Hotshots’ game versus Blackwater on Wednesday, Oct. 28, at 4:00 p.m. will push through, since the latter are currently in isolation.
Ginebra, on the other hand, will face the Elasto Painters on Oct. 27, Tuesday, at 6:45 p.m. in a battle of teams hungry to rebound — Rain or Shine is coming off an 88-89 loss to Alaska that ended their three-game winning streak.
Magnolia (102) – Corpuz 20, Lee 15, Barroca 15, Sangalang 14, Dela Rosa 13, Banchero 10, Jalalon 9, Reavis 6, Melton 0, Calisaan 0, Abundo 0, Pascual 0, Saitanan 0, Dionisio 0.
Ginebra (92) – Pringle 24, Aguilar 13, Thompson 10, Dillinger 9, Chan 9, Caperal 8, Tenorio 6, Tolentino 6, Mariano 4, Devance 3, Salado 0, Dela Cruz 0, R. Aguilar 0, Caguioa 0.
Quarterscores: 25-25, 52-54, 78-77, 102-92.