Magnolia averted disaster and escaped TNT, 92-88, to tie their PBA Philippine Cup semis series to a game apiece, Friday night at SMART Araneta Coliseum.
Mark Barroca and Calvin Abueva came through with a split each in the dying moments to give the Hotshots much-needed leverage after witnessing their 19-point lead become just two with less than four ticks remaining.
“We expected the comeback,” said coach Chito Victolero. “Ang ano ko lang sa kanila is to weather the storm, we have to make one defensive stop and we need to execute our offense. Ang maganda lang doon nakakasagot kami.”
Barroca top-scored for Magnolia with 22 points as he played a big role in helping his side avoid falling to yet another Mikey Williams explosion.
The league’s reigning scoring king powered the Tropang Giga’s rally, scoring 25 of his 28 points in the second half. He poured 14 in the fourth quarter alone, including a three to cut the gap to just four, 88-84.
But it was Kelly Williams who gave the Hotshots the biggest threat when he rifled in a three of his own to make it 90-88 with 3,9 ticks to go.
However, Lady Luck sided with Victolero’s wards. Roger Pogoy had already stolen the ball from Barroca following an inbound but his foot was caught stepping on the line, giving the ball back to Magnolia.
Barroca provided one of the finishing touches afterward with a split with 2.2 seconds left. Abueva then hammered the nail in the coffin, making the first of his two freebies off a loose ball foul by Matt Ganuelas-Rosser.
“Yung mental toughness namin nandoon. We expect a run, but also, we’re very positive and we’re very confident of our defense and our executive on offense,” said the former Coach of the Year.
Ian Sangalang had 20 points and eight rebounds in the win. Abueva finished with 18 points and eight boards as well, while Paul Lee added 10.
The Hotshots now hope to carry over the momentum they built in the pulsating win in Game Three on Sunday, 4:30 p.m., still at the Big Dome.
Meanwhille, Jayson Castro had 17 points and eight rebounds for TNT in the loss. Poy Erram made 13 points, as Roger Pogoy chimed in 11.
Magnolia 92 – Barroca 22, Sangalang 20, Abueva 18, Lee 10, Reavis 9, Wong 5, Jalalon 4, Dela Rosa 2, Laput 2, Dionisio 0.
TNT 88 –M.Williams 28, Castro 17, Erram 13, Pogoy 11, Rosario 10, K.Williams 6, Montalbo 3, Khobuntin 0, Alejandro 0, Marcelo 0, Ganuelas-Rosser 0.
Quarterscores: 18-12, 39-29, 69-58, 92-88.
The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.