Magnolia continued its surge in the PBA Governors’ Cup after overpowering Rain or Shine, 112-97, Wednesday night at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.
The Hotshots raced to a 33-19 lead after the first 12 minutes and pulled away for good in the third quarter en route to chalking up their fourth consecutive win while foiling the Elasto Painters’ attempt of winning three straight.
“Stay positive lang kami, we try to handle things positively and make sure to learn from our mistakes,” said head coach Chito Victolero as his team improved to .500 for the first time after a 0-3 start into the tourney.
Star guards Jio Jalalon, Paul Lee, and Mark Barroca spearheaded the wire-to-wire victory as the celebrated troika finished with 19 points apiece.
Antonio Hester came up big as well with 17 points, 15 rebounds, and five assists for Magnolia, who’s now thrown itself into contention for a Top Four finish that merits a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals.
Providing the unlikely spark, meanwhile, was Russel Escoto, who supplied 10 points and eight rebounds in 14 minutes off the bench as Victolero found another solid contributor while awaiting the return of Ian Sangalang.
“Russel is playing well for the last four, five games. This is a big break for Russel. Wala si Ian, wala si Jackson,” said the champion mentor as the team is also missing the services of bruiser Jackson Corpuz.
The Hotshots will look to keep going against KJ McDaniels and Meralco on Sunday, 6:45 p.m., at the SMART Araneta Coliseum
Greg Smith led Rain or Shine with 15 points in his return after sitting out their game against Terrafirma the last time out due to clearance problems.
Leonard Santillan had 14 points and seven rebounds while Nick Demusis chimed in 11 for the Elasto Painters, who dropped to 2-5.
Coach Yeng Guiao and the rest of the crew are set to face NLEX on Saturday at 6:45 p.m. also at the Big Dome for a chance to bounce back.
Magnolia 112 – Jalalon 19, Lee 19, Barroca 19, Hester 17, Escoto 10, Dela Rosa 8, Reavis 6, Dionisio 6, Abueva 4, Wong 2, Zaldivar 2, Mendoza 0.
Rain or Shine 97 – Smith 15, Santillan 14, Demusis 11, Yap 9, Belga 9, Caracut 9, Ildefonso 8, Asistio 6, Norwood 5, Nambatac 5, Mamuyac 4, Clarito 2, Ponferrada 0.
Quarterscores: 33-19, 53-44, 91-77, 112-97.