Magnolia leaned on a killer of a third quarter to beat Meralco, 108-96, Sunday and stoke its drive for an outright top two finish in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup eliminations at the PhilSports Arena.
Paul Lee scored 11 of his team-high 27 points in the third in leading a balanced attack on both ends of the floor that enabled the Hotshots to outscore the Bolts, 47-23, and take a 93-74 lead into the fourth canto.
Not even the foul trouble that plagued import Nico Rakocevic hampered Magnolia’s drive as it even stretched the difference to 21 points twice before easily fending off Meralco’s attempts at a fightback.
After putting behind them an 89-95 loss to Bay Area last Nov. 19 and improving to a 9-2 record, the Hotshots now only need to prevail over Rain or Shine on Friday to put a lock on No. 2 behind the Dragons and clinch the last win-once advantage in the quarterfinals.
“Our destiny is in our hands,” said deputy coach Jason Webb, subbing for head coach Chito Victolero in the post-game presser.
“We’ve got two games, we’ve handled Game One today and on Friday if we handled that the same way we did today then we get a bit of an advantage for the quarterfinals,” added Webb.
Webb also credited the challenge put forth by Victolero during the halftime break for the explosion that was the highest in a quarter the league has seen since Phoenix had the same output in the last period of a loss to TNT in the 2016 Governors Cup.