Calvin Abueva scored 15 of his team-high 25 points in the final frame while Paul Lee sank the game-winning free throws as Magnolia improved to 3-0 following a come-from-behind win over debuting TNT, 94-92, Wednesday night in the elimination round of the PBA Season 47 Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
The Hotshots, who entered the payoff period down by 11, 72-83, unleashed a 13-0 run to grab the upper hand, 77-75, with 6:40 left in the game clock. It was a nip-and-tuck affair from that point on with Abueva doing most of the damage for the 2014 PBA Grand Slam champions.
With the game tied at 92 with 26 ticks remaining, Lee was fouled by Calvin Oftana while on the path to the basket. The 33-year old native of Tondo, Manila calmly drained both charities to formalize the victory.
“This is an elite team. This is a champion team. Every time we face Talk N Text, talagang ganyan yung laro eh. It’s all about mental, physical, and all we want is a close game. At least may chance kami sa dulo,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero during the post-game press conference.
“Masaya kami na nanalo kami and medyo malungkot, sana makabalik si Nick [Rakocevic] dahil talagang bagay siya doon sa system namin eh. Mahirap humanap ng import talaga,” he added.
The 24-year old Rakocevic left the match halfway into the 4th quarter after hurting his right knee in a freak accident involving teammate Jackson Corpuz and Roger Pogoy. He finished with 22 points, 15 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal and a block.
Abueva, who was adjudged as the Best Player of the game, also had 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and a block in 31 minutes of action.
Lee scored 16 while Mark Barroca and Aris Dionisio chipped in 13 and 9 markers, respectively.
The Tropang Giga, who played without Jayson Castro, Mikey Williams, Glenn Khobuntin and Raul Soyud due to injures and Poy Erram due to suspension, were led by Cameron Oliver’s 43 points and 17 boards. He shot 16-of-29 from the field with 7-of-12 coming from long distance.
Roger Pogoy added 23 points while new recruit Oftana chipped in 12.
The Hotshots take a 1 week break before going for win number 4 against NLEX on Wednesday, October 12, 5:45pm at the same venue.
Magnolia 94 – Abueva 25, Rakocevic 22, Lee 16, Barroca 13, Dionisio 9, Corpuz 5, Mendoza 3, Wong 1, Zaldivar 0, Reavis 0, Jalalon 0.
TNT 92 – Oliver 43, Pogoy 23, Oftana 12, Montalbo 4, Ganuelas-Rosser 4, Marcelo 3, Alejandro 3, Cruz 0, Tungcab 0, K.Williams 0.
Quarterscores: 26-29, 42-54, 62-73, 94-92.