Magnolia fought hard despite losing import Nick Rakocevic but eventually fell short and lost to Manila Clasico rival Brgy. Ginebra, 87-84 in the series opener of the PBA Season 47 Commissioner’s Cup semifinals, Wednesday night at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.
The Hotshots lost their 24-year old Serbian-American reinforcement after he was called for his second technical foul halfway in the third frame for ‘tripping’ Christian Standhardinger. He was assessed his first technical in the second quarter for violently protesting a call, also against the Gin Kings’ big man.
Despite Rakocevic’s absence, the Hotshots still managed to engage their opponents in a nip-and-tuck affair until the closing moments of the match.
Jamie Malonzo paced Brgy. Ginebra with 21 points on 6-of-14 shooting from the field with 2-of-7 coming from beyond the arc. He shot a perfect 7-of-7 from the 15-foot line and added 12 boards, an assist and 3 steals to his tally.
“It’s a struggle and it’s such a mental game out there. Those guys and our guys kept battling. It’s not a pretty game. There were no pogi points as it’s about getting it done, and that’s what our guys did… get it done,” said Tim Cone who just turned 65 years old.
“They’re so quick on defense, and it’s frustrating for us. They scouted us very well and they know what’s coming,” he added.
Paul Lee led the Hotshots with 21 points highlighted by 4-of-8 sniping from 3-point country. Aris Dionisio added 12 markers while Ian Sangalang and Calvin Abueva chipped in 10 points apiece with latter adding 12 boards to the losing cause.
Rakocevic left the game with 10 points, 8 assists, 2 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks in 20 minutes of play.
Magnolia will try to equalize the best-of-five series when they clash anew on Friday, December 16, 3:00pm at the same venue.
Brgy. Ginebra 87 – Malonzo 21, Thompson 16, Standhardinger 14, Brownlee 11, Pringle 8, Tenorio 6, J. Aguilar 6, Gray 3, Mariano 2.
Magnolia 84 – Lee 21, Dionisio 12, Sangalang 10, Abueva 10, Rakocevic 10, Dela Rosa 7, Jalalon 6, Corpuz 4, Barroca 4, Reavis 0, Wong 0, Laput 0, Mendoza 0.
Quarterscores: 24-22, 45-44, 70-67, 87-84.