PBA Finals: Magnolia rallies from 20 down to stun San Miguel for 1-0 lead
Underdogs both in paper and in championships, Magnolia pulled the rug from under San Miguel with a 105-103 comeback win to draw first blood in their PBA Philippine Cup Finals duel Friday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Hotshots, who even trailed by as much 20, just came out firing in the payoff period and stifled the defending champions to take control of the game.
Mark Barroca and Ian Sangalang gave the Hotshots their biggest lead of the game at 103-100 with 43 seconds left before Marcio Lassiter tied the game with a three.
Sangalang, who scored a career-high 29 points with nine rebounds, managed to fish a foul from reigning MVP June Mar Fajardo and scored on two freebies to put the Hotshots ahead for good.
The Beermen had a chance to tie or take the lead, but Raffy Reavis stifled Arwind Santos’ attempt as the 2.5 seconds on the clock dwindled away.
Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero, who is on his first finals series, said it all boiled down to his team’s character in persevering despite falling to a 20-point, 72-52, hole in the third.
“It’s all credit to the players because they were down by 20 but they didn’t give up,” said Victolero in Filipino. “That’s our character that has been built through our past experiences.”
“Hopefully we can sustain this energy and I hope that the players aren’t tired after coming back from 20 points.”
Paul Lee tied the game at 97-97 with 3:25 left in the fourth quarter after Magnolia’s blistering 27-8 run across the final two periods.
As per the PBA’s statistician Fidel Mangonon, the Beermen were 11-0 this conference when scoring 100 points or more before losing to the Hotshots.
Aldrech Ramos helped Sangalanh underneath with 15 points while Barroca filled the stat sheets with 14 points, six rebounds, and five assists.
June Mar Fajardo put up a marvelous line of 31 points and 18 rebounds but also turned the ball over 11 times.
Alex Cabagnot missed out on a triple-double as he finished with 27 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists while Lassiter added 21 points.
Arwind Santos also finished in double digits for the Beermen with 19 points.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is on Sunday at Mall of Asia Arena.
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