Magnolia outlasted an undermanned Phoenix side and booked a semis ticket after pulling off a 102-95 victory, Friday night in the quarterfinal round of the PBA Season 47 Commissioner’s Cup at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.
Nick Rakocevic played through a sprained ankle which he sustained in the 3rd frame and finished with 18 points including a clutch triple and four freebies in the payoff period to go with 13 boards, 2 assists, 4 steals and 5 blocks as the Hotshots secured the second semis ticket after the top-seeded Bay Arean Dragons earlier claimed the first one.
“I think it was just the adrenaline and the support I had from my coaches and teammates,” said Rakocevic who was named as the Best Player.
Calvin Abueva led the 2014 PBA Grand Slam champs with 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting in addition to 5 rebounds, an assist and 3 steals in 24 minutes of action.
“Actually, they didn’t look undermanned. They gave us a lot of matchup problems because they played big. We weren’t actually ready for that. It took a while — it took us until the fourth quarter before we finally figured it out,” said lead assistant Jason Webb who called the shots in the absence of head coach Chito Victolero due to the league’s health and safety protocols.
“They tried to go for the mismatches. Credit to that team. They kept us off-balance the entire time. ‘Yung will na lang ng mga bata ‘yung nag-prevail nung dulo — the veterans, even the guys on the bench,” he added.
Mark Barroca added 16 while Paul Lee fired 15 with 12 coming from beyond the arc. Adrian Wong contributed 11 points while Jio Jalalon and Ian Sangalang chipped in 8 and 6 markers, respectively.
The Hotshots will take on the winner of the Brgy. Ginebra vs NorthPort best-of-three quarterfinal series with the Gin Kings holding a 1-0 edge going into Game 2.