Magnolia finally scraped out a win, cutting short NorthPort’s fine start to the PBA Philippine Cup with an 80-77 thriller Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Rome dela Rosa capped the Hotshots’ well-executed play with a left wing triple, giving them the three-point lead that turned out to be the final count after Arwind Santos missed his own shot from deep in the Batang Pier’s last thrust inside the final three seconds.
That shot turned out to be the validation, at least for now, of coach Chito Victolero’s trust and belief in his charges who continue to turn in the effort despite being ravaged by injuries, which he blamed mostly for the losses to TNT and Converge at the start of the season.
“Sabi ko nga, wala akong question, wala akong masasabi sa effort of my players,” said Victolero. “But, you know, it’s all about the breaks of the game. Maybe, also it’s about executing in the end. But now we did a good job in executing on both ends.”
Paul Lee played his first game of the season and even had 12 early points but failed to finish the game when his back stiffened up anew while Mark Barroca, Aris Dionisio and Ian Sangalang also played with pain.
Leading those who stepped up the most for Magnolia was Calvin Abueva, who finished with a game-high 23 points and 12 rebounds, while Sangalang still finished with eight points and 10 boards like Jio Jalalon, with the latter adding six assists. Dionisio also had 12 points on top of nine rebounds.
“That sense of urgency in terms of executing, in terms of consistency, the effort and the desire. I think nagawa naman namin,” said Victolero.