Magnolia def Phoenix, 82-79 [PBA S48 Comm’s Cup SF G1 | Jan. 24, 2024]

In a tightly-fought game, one play could make a world of difference.

Magnolia came up with one such crucial play in the endgame, enabling it to squeak past Phoenix Super LPG, 82-79, Wednesday at the start of their PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals duel at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Tyler Bey turned a nifty pass from Paul Lee into a three-point play, giving the Hotshots the luxury of an 81-78 lead with just 87 seconds to go in a nip-and-tuck game that featured 16 deadlocks and 15 lead changes.

Johnathan Williams’ charities and Bey’s split made it a three-point game in the last 3.8 seconds before the Fuel Masters’ Jason Perkins went a little wide to the right on his buzzer-beating triple try.

After taking the headstart in the best-of-five series, Magnolia aims to make a more imposing 2-0 lead when the series shifts to the Mall of Asia Arena starting Friday.

Hotshots coach Chito Victolero is simply glad his team was able to hold strong in defense when their offense failed to get really going against the Fuel Masters’ own tough stand.

Bey led the way for Magnolia with 23 points and 10 rebounds with Paul Lee adding 11 points, five rebounds, and three assists and Mark Barroca chipping in 10, six of those in the fourth quarter.

Perkins had 25 points to lead Phoenix, which drew 13 points from RJ Jazul and 11 points from Javee Mocon.

Williams was limited to 11 points on as many shots, but did have a gamehigh 18 rebounds and seven assists.

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