Trailing for almost the entire first half, Magnolia turned on the heat in the 3rd quarter and then stepped on the gas in the 4th as the Hotshots outlasted a hard-fighting Meralco side, 88-85, in the elimination round of the 2021 PBA Governors’ Cup, Wednesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Already missing the services of key players Calvin Abueva and Rome dela Rosa, the Chito Victolero-mentored squad also played without Ian Sangalang who showed up in civvies due to a knee injury. His absence hardly mattered though as Mike Harris and Rafi Reavis more than held their own against the Bolts’ frontline.
Harris led the Hotshots, who secured a twice-to-beat advantage in the next round following their 8th win in 9 outings, with a monster double-double of 30 points and 22 rebounds to go with 2 blocks, an assist and a steal in 44 minutes of play.
“We had that effort pero maganda ‘yung pace ng Meralco. We talked about it at halftime na natalo kami sa pace. Sa third quarter, we adjusted, started Jio in the third quarter, and nakakuha kami ng momentum at energy from Jio,” said Victolero during the post-game press conference.
“Good thing we executed well on defense especially in the fourth. We also limited their import. Na-disrupt namin ‘yung execution nila. Credit all to the players. They did a good job. Kahit na kulang-kulang kami, no excuses. Sabi ko next man up and everybody stepped up,” he added.
Paul Lee added 16 points while Jio Jalalon, Mark Barroca and Adrian Wong chipped in 10 markers apiece.
The Hotshots shoot for win number 9 on Sunday, March 6 against the highly-motivated Alaska Aces.
Magnolia 88 – Harris 30, Lee 16, Jalalon 10, Barroca 10, Wong 10, Reavis 6, Corpuz 4, Escoto 2, Brill 0, Ahanmisi 0, Dionisio 0.
Meralco 85 – Bishop 19, Newsome 18, Banchero 13, Maliksi 13, Almazan 6, Hodge 5, Caram 5, Black 4, Belo 2, Quinto 0.
Quarterscores: 11-23, 36-47, 68-66, 88-85.