Magnolia relied on the clutch plays of Jio Jalalon to overcome a hard-fighting NLEX side, 112-106, and win the best-of-three quarterfinal series, 2-1, Sunday at the SM MOA Arena in Pasay City.
The victory forged a best-of-seven showdown with 2nd-seeded TNT in the semifinal round of the PBA Season 47 Philippine Cup.
The 5-foot-8 Jalalon scored 7 of the Hotshots’ 15 points in the extra period including a ‘hail mary’ three which gave the SMC-owned franchise more breathing room, 106-100, with just 1:49 ticks left on the game clock.
Calvin Abueva and Mark Barroca drained 4 straight free throws to put the game away after the Road Warriors threatened one last time on back-to-back three-pointers by Don Trollano which cut the lead down to 2 with still 1:03 remaining.
Ian Sangalang paced the Chito Victlero-mentored squad with 24 points on 11-of-21 shooting to go with 11 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks in 43 minutes of action.
“Noong ginamit ko si Jio, he’s ready. Sa mata pa lang, parang tinitingnan niya ako: ‘Coach, magsisisi ka kasi ‘di mo ako ginagamit,’” said Victolero who admitted that he forgot about ‘The Cyclone’ and only remembered to put him back in the game with only a minute left in regulation period.
“I’m very proud because hindi kami nag-give up eh. We’re down, but hindi kami nag-give up. That’s mental toughness, and the grit and determination of the players,” he added.
Paul Lee scored 21 including the game-trying triple to force overtime while Jalalon finished with a statline of 16 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals in 31 minutes of play.
Barroca and Abueva chipped in 14 and 13 points, respectively while Rome dela Rosa added 10 markers.