Losing import Nick Rakocevic with over six minutes left to play, the Magnolia locals stayed together and fought with grit and guts to beat the TNT Tropang Giga, 94-92, in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last night.
Calvin Abueva and Paul Lee took the cudgels as the Hotshots overcame Cameron Oliver’s 43-point explosion and RR Pogoy’s huge 23-point contribution to keep abreast with the Bay Area Dragons at 3-0.
Abueva topscored for the Hotshots with 25 points plus nine rebounds and three assists while Lee fired 16 markers, including the game-winning free throws in the last four seconds.
Mark Barroca (13 markers, five assists and three boards) and Aris Dionisio (nine points and six rebounds) also put in significant help as the Hotshots denied the Tropang Giga a triumphant conference debut.
The sad part was the freak accident that left Rakocevic down on the floor with an injured right knee.
“We’re happy to win the game, but we’re sad Rakocevic got hurt. We pray it’s just a minor injury, mahirap maghanap ng import na tugma sa laro ng isang team,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero.
Before being helped to their bench, Rakocevic had piled up 22 points and 15 rebounds.