Magnolia completed a furious fightback from 14 points down and picked up its 2nd win in as many games in the elimination round of the PBA Season 47 Commissioner’s Cup after defeating Converge, 109-105, Saturday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
Down by 14, 87-73, after a triple by Converge guard Alec Stockton early in the payoff period, the Hotshots unleashed a crippling 21-3 run behind the guns of Paul Lee, Jio Jalalon, Aris Dionisio and import Nick Rakocevic to seize the lead, 94-90.
The FiberXers refused to throw in the towel and came to within 2 points, 105-107, on Abu Tratter’s clutch trey with still 23 ticks left on the game clock. Two free throws from Calvin Abueva, however, sealed the deal for the 2014 PBA Grand Slam champs.
“Nung first game, masarap ang feeling na naka-45 yung import namin pero ang contribution ng locals ang hinahanap ko. This game, nakita ko yung contribution ng locals, especially the key players. Sila naman ang nagdala nung nag-struggle ang import namin,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero during the post-game presser.
“This game was all about matching the aggressiveness and intensity of the other team. Sabi ko sa kanila, we can’t allow them to outwork us and expect to win the game. I think in the second half, we’re able to do that,” he added.
Rakocevic struggled in the early goings but found his bearing in the nick of time to once again pace the Hotshots with a 20-20 performance of 21 points and 24 boards to go with an assist and a block in 40 minutes of play.
Lee dropped 20 with 9 coming from beyond the arc while Mark Barroca, who has named as the Best Player of the match, came through with 19.
“Kinailangan namin mag-build ng momentum. Sayang kasi kapag makapaglabas pa sa amin yung ganitong opportunity kasi hindi pa namin nakalaban yung mga elite team,” said Barroca. “Hindi man namin nagawa lahat ng gameplan namin, nakita namin na may mga pwede pa kami i-improve. Yun yung mga positive na pwede namin gawin sa next game namin.”
Jalalon scored 15 while Ian Sangalang and Calvin Abueva chipped in 10 markers each. Dionisio finished with 8 including 2 triples in the telling 4th quarter run which turned the game around.