ANTIPOLO – Converge remained unbeaten in the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup but not before averting disaster at the hands of a more experienced Magnolia, 111-109, Sunday evening at the Ynares Center here.
The FiberXers saw their 13-point lead become just two with 30.9 seconds to go and left the door open for the Hotshots, but dodged a huge bullet when import Erik McCree missed an ill-advised triple as time expired.
Converge has gained sole leadership of the standings with a clean 3-0 record by spoiling the conference debut of their counterparts, whom they finally beat after failing short in the last Commissioner’s Cup, 109-105.
“Minadali namin ‘yung tira eh,” said head coach Aldin Ayo. “Pero you cannot blame the players kasi ‘yun talaga ang sistema namin eh. And you just can’t turn it on, na tipong you have to slow down. We’re not going to slow down.
“And still, we had good looks doon sa three-points. It just didn’t go in. Well, breaks lang ng laro ‘yun,” added the youthful bench tactician.
Jamaal Franklin led the FiberXers with 26 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists, but shot just 5-of-14 from the field and committed six turnovers.
Still, he made important conversions down the stretch, including a big triple against the Rome Dela Rosa to extend their lead to 111-105 with 1:05 left.
The ex-NBA cager played in his second PBA game since taking over the reins from Ethan Rusbatch and Ayo hopes to see him adjust to their scheme of things sooner, lamenting that the team as of now is being ‘very predictable.’
“Jamaal is still adjusting doon sa sistema namin, and right now what I can say is, we are very predictable,” said the straightforward tactician.
“Hopefully ‘yung mga susunod na araw, makapag-adjust si Jamaal dun sa mga plays namin. Because, we don’t want to call those plays all the time.”
Maverick Ahanmisi continued to shine with 22 points and five rebounds, marking the second time this conference that he hit over 20 in scoring.
Alec Stockton came up big as well with 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting despite leaving the game prematurely following an F1 on McCree with 2:32 left to play.
Costly was that call as it led to six straight points from McCree alone that capped a 9-0 run for the Hotshots, which got them to within a field goal, 106-104, with 2:27 left after being down 100-87 midway through the fourth.
“For me, of course, I was frustrated [that] I wasn’t out there to be able to help my teammates. But thank God that I have really good teammates that stepped up, and helped us win down the stretch,” said Stockton.
Aljun Melecio had 14 points, while Jeron Teng added 11 for Converge, who’s battling Rain or Shine next on Thursday, 6:45 p.m. at the Philsports Arena.
McCree, meanwhile, led Magnolia with 38 points and 16 rebounds in the loss. Paul Lee backed him up with 21 points, five rebounds, and four assists.
Jio Jalalon made 13 points, eight rebounds, and five assists, while Calvin Abueva chipped in 12 markers and four boards for the Hotshots.
The ‘Beast,’ however, left the game early as he got fouled out barely three minutes into the fourth quarter after fouling Stockton.
Mourning the loss of utility staff Tembot Del Rosario, Magnolia will look to win against the 1-1 Terrafirma on Friday, 3 p.m. also in Ynares Antipolo.
Converge 111– Franklin 26, Ahanmisi 22, Stockton 18, Melecio 14, Teng 11, Arana 8, Balanza 6, Tratter 4, Ambohot 2, Racal 0, Murrell 0.
Magnolia 109 – Mccree 38, Lee 21, Jalalon 13, Abueva 12, Escoto 7, Ahanmisi 5, Wong 4, Dela Rosa 3, Sangalang 2, Barroca 2, Dionisio 2, Corpuz 0.
Quarterscores: 28-23, 50-47, 84-73, 111-109.
The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.