Nick Rakocevic returned to the hardcourt with no signs of a knee injury and powered Magnolia past NLEX, 111-97, in the elimination round of the PBA Season 47 Commissioner’s Cup, Wednesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
The 24-year old Serbian-American reinforcement, who hurt his right knee after teammate Jackson Corpuz landed on him during the game against TNT, scattered 36 points on 13-of-23 shooting to go with 15 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals in 36 minutes of action as the Hotshots remained immaculate after 4 starts. The loss, meanwhile, was the second straight for the Road Warriors after winning their first two.
“I think I’m a little fatigued, you know, tired. Knee is still not a hundred percent, but like Coach was saying, everybody had to sacrifice,” said Rakocevic during the post-game press conference. “I had to go out there and play through the pain because everybody’s sacrificing on the team.”
“Like Coach was saying earlier, everybody makes sacrifices, and everybody sees that so you want to play harder and you wanna play for the guy next to you, you want to play for the coach,” he added.
Magnolia head coach Chito Victoro still called the shots despite coming off surgery to repair his torn Achilles tendon. He used a mobility scooter and sat on the bench all-game long along with starters Ian Sangalang and Rome dela Rosa who both missed the match due to illness.
“Sacrifice is what really carried us in this game,” said lead assistant coach Jason Webb. “If you look at it from top to bottom, you have coach Chito coming over here after an operation two, three days ago.
“We have guys that had typhoid fever coming here, being present. Nick was only able to practice one day but I think as a team, everyone appreciated each other’s effort.”
Jio Jalalon led the local charge with 18 points in addition to 5 rebounds and game-highs of 8 assists and 6 steals. Mark Barroca scored 16 while Paul Lee finished with 9. Aris Dionisio and Jackson Corpuz chipped in 8 markers apiece.