Antonio Hester could just be what the doctor ordered as he helped Magnolia breakthrough in the PBA Governors’ Cup following a masterful 108-95 conquest of Phoenix Super LPG, Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
The comebacking import finished with a full line of 28 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, four steals, and a block in 42 minutes as the Hotshots finally barged into the win column after starting out with three consecutive losses.
“We changed a lot of our movements especially offensively because, without Ian, we don’t have any post threat. This guy [Hester] opens up the floor and gives chances to our guards to get their shot,” said head coach Chito Victolero.
His efforts sure did rub off on his teammates as four other players finished in double figures with the win that sent the Fuel Masters skidding (1-5).
Mark Barroca submitted 19 points off the bench. Calvin Abueva tallied his own double-double with 18 and 10, together with five assists.
Paul Lee supplied 14 points on four treys while young gun Maverick Ahanmisi fired 12 points — all of which he collected from beyond the arc.
Ahanmisi and Abueva starred in Magnolia’s blistering 29-9 assault for a 52-30 lead in the second period. The team as a whole scored 35 while limiting their foes to 15 in the said quarter to set the tone for the one-sided affair.
“The locals are playing well right now. Although we lost our last three games, they played well. We just need a game-changer like Hes right here, who can turn things around for us,” Victolero said.
The blowout serves as a prelude to Magnolia’s Manila Clasico clash versus Ginebra on Sunday, 6:45 p.m., also at the MOA Arena.
Jason Perkins, meanwhile, finished with 20 points to lead Phoenix, who dropped its second in a row since winning over NorthPort last February 2.
Larry Muyang had 15 points and six rebounds, while rookie Tyler Tio added 13 as the locals tried to carry the fight on a night Du’Vaughn Maxwell was limited to a PBA career-low 11 markers and 10 boards.
Phoenix will look to arrest its skid against Terrafirma on the 18th, Saturday, at 4:30 p.m. at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
Magnolia 108 – Hester 28, Barroca 19, Abueva 18, Lee 14, Ahanmisi 12, Dela Rosa 6, Escoto 4, Wong 3, Jalalon 2, Laput 2, Corpuz 0, Reavis 0, Dionisio 0, Mendoza 0.
Phoenix Super LPG 95 – Perkins 20, Muyang 15, Tio 13, Maxwell 11, Jazul 9, Serrano 8, Manganti 6, Alejandro 4, Soyud 3, Adamos 3, Go 3, Lalata 0, Garcia 0, Camacho 0.
Quarterscores: 23-21, 58-36, 87-67, 108-95.
The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.