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PBA: Dionisio proves steady in clutch as Magnolia fends off SMB, punches QF ticket


Luck sided Magnolia as it withstood San Miguel’s late-game comeback attempt, 94-90, to secure a quarterfinal ticket in the PBA Season 48 Commissioner’s Cup, Sunday night at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.

The Hotshots saw their 10-point lead become just two twice inside the game’s final 33.6 seconds left, but Aris Dionisio’s two perfect trips to the foul line kept the opposition at bay — and made sure that no collapse would take place.

Big thanks to their composure, the crew has gone 7-0 to stay on top of the standings, equalling the all-time best start in franchise history which it did back in the 2008 Philippine Cup under then-mentor Ryan Gregorio.

They’re also the first team to start a conference with that many wins since TNT in the 2019 Governors’ Cup under the coaching tandem of Mark Dickel and Bong Ravena, according to league stats chief Fidel Mangonon III.

“Like I said in the last game, it is not an easy game for us. With or without June Mar, it’s always a grind-out game against San Miguel,” said head coach Chito Victolero. “Their mental toughness was great and we needed to match that.

“Kita niyo naman, we were up with less than two minutes, pero nandoon palagi, hindi kami makabitaw,” the champion bench tactician added.

Import Tyler Bey top-billed once more with 31 points and 21 rebounds but the backcourt tandem of Jio Jalalon ana Mark Barroca, plus the presence provided by young big man James Laput, were huge in the triumph as well.

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Laput finished with 14 points and seven rebounds. Jio Jalalon had 11 points and 11 assists while Barroca and Dionisio added 10 markers apiece.

Magnolia managed to buck the premature exit of Paul Lee. The star guard sprained his right ankle in the second period before leaving the match for good late in the third, leaving with only two points to his name.

“We need this kind of game, going into the latter part of the tournament,” said Victolero. “Going into the playoffs we need these grind-out games because alam naman natin, pagdating ng playoffs, ganito lahat ng laro.”

Magnolia will fly to Cagayan de Oro next week to face the streaking Rain or Shine on December 16 in an attempt to collect win no. 8.

Ivan Aska, meanwhile, finished with 29 points and six rebounds to lead the depleted San Miguel, which suffered its second loss in a row.

Jericho Cruz supplied 16 points, five boards, and four assists as he played a key role in the Beermen’s comeback bid, nailing the triple that got them to within 90-88 — only for Dionisio and the Hotshots to waste their efforts.

A team rumored to undergo changes soon, SMB (3-3) will look to arrest its skid versus reigning conference champions Barangay Ginebra (4-2) in a rivalry affair on Friday, December 15, 8 p.m, at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:

Magnolia 94 – Bey 31, Laput 14, Jalalon 11, Barroca 10, Dionisio 10, Dela Rosa 6, Sangalang 4, Ahanmisi 3, Lee 2, Reavis 2, Tratter 1, Mendoza 0.

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San Miguel 90 – Aska 29, Cruz 16, Tautuaa 12, Lassiter 9, Brondial 9, Ross 7, Perez 4, Mallilin 2, Bulanadi 2.

Quarterscores: 17-19, 44-39, 68-67, 94-90.

Written By

Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.


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