After a dismal start to the conference, the Magnolia Hotshots inched closer to the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinals, pulling away late en route to a 97-87 victory over the eliminated Blackwater Elite, Friday night at the Ynares Center im Antipolo City.
The Hotshots broke off late, unloading a 10-3 spurt to turn a five-point deficit to an 84-72 advantage with 4:02 left to play. They maintained the advantage the way towards the win that hiked their record to 5-5.
“This won’t be an easy game. It’s a grinding game kasi mahirap kalaban Blackwater. We know pupunta sila rito, maglalaro ng walang pressure. Buti na lang yung desire namin andun,” said Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero.
Forward Rome Dela Rosa led the Hotshots’ well-deployed attack with 17 points. Ian Sangalang churned out 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Paul Lee made 16 points as well along with nine rebounds, four assists, and a steal.
Rafi Reavis had 11 points and nine boards, while Mark Barroca had 11 markers as well as five assists. Rodney Brondial produced 10 points and 10 caroms.
“Happy naman ako na we were able to meet our goal [of winning] before the All-Star break,” said Victolero.
Mac Belo and Allein Maliksi had 16 markers apiece to lead Blackwater, who finished the conference with a 2-9 card – a downer considering their run in the 2018 Governors’ Cup, where they fought for a twice-to-beat advantage.
Diego Dario and Joseph Eriobu had 11 and 10 points, respectively.
The Hotshots will look to formalize their entry into quarterfinals with a win over the NLEX Road Warriors on April 3, Wednesday, at the SMART Araneta Coliseum, in a rematch of last season’s Philippine Cup semifinals.
Magnolia 97 – Dela Rosa 17, Lee 16, Sangalang 16, Reavis 11, Barroca 11, Brondial 10, Melton 9, Jalalon 4, Ramos 3, Simon 0, Gamalinda 0, Pascual 0, Abundo 0.
Blackwater 87 – Maliksi 16, Belo 16, Dario 11, Eriobu 10, Al-Hussaini 9, Tratter 8, Banal 7, Digregorio 4, Sena 3, Desiderio 3, Sumang 0, Javier 0.
Quarterscores: 20-20, 49-41, 68-61, 97-87.