Magnolia soldiered through pain and the exhausting run-and-gun game of tough Converge to grab 109-105 victory and a 2-0 card in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Unwavering despite their game-long struggles and facing a 14-point deficit early in the fourth, the Hotshots found ways to turn things around and unleashed a lethal 38-21 closing barrage to get the job done.
Coach Chito Victolero, still wearing a protective boot on his right foot due to torn Achilles tendon, utilized his clutch small guys Marc Barroca, Paul Lee, Jio Jalalon along with import Nick Rakocevic in stealing victory from the jaws of defeat.
Rakocevic, who struggled with hip issues after his 45-point debut last time, found the groove when it mattered most and banged in nine of his 21 in the fourth period, including a putback that gave the Hotshots a 105-96 cushion.
Lee produced 20, capping his heroics with two charities that restored a 107-102 upperhand amid Converge’s late rallies, while Barroca, who played through a dislocated right pinkie, shot 19.
Jalalon made 15, nine of them in the payoff period, as Ian Sangalang and tournament-debuting Calvin Abueva added 10 apiece.
“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 Victolero after Magnolia followed up its 100-92 disposal of Terrafirma.