Magnolia wrests lead
Magnolia moved a win away from a much-awaited trip to the Finals after turning back NLEX, 87-78, in their PBA Philippine Cup semifinals series on Sunday at Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
Learning their lessons from their lackluster showing in Game 4, the Hotshots backcourt, led by Mark Barroca and Paul Lee, rekindled their magic in the all-important Game 5 to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven battle.
“We needed to go to our strength, which is our defense,” Hotshots coach Chito Victolero said. “But there’s nothing to celebrate yet. We need four wins to make the finals.”
Magnolia shoots for the second Finals berth—against San Miguel Beer which is gunning for an unprecedented fourth straight Philippine Cup title—in Game 6 on Tuesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Magnolia franchise San Mig Super Coffee was the Philippine Cup champion in 2013-2014 before sister team San Miguel won the next three.
Barroca led all Magnolia scorers with 18 points and hauled down seven rebounds in 31 minutes, while Lee finished with 15 points.
Rookie Kiefer Ravena fired a game-high 21 points for NLEX, including 10 in the final period.
Earlier, NLEX guard Kevin Alas injured his right knee after driving against Lee and Barroca, just 40 seconds into the all-important tussle.
Alas was immediately taken back to the Road Warriors’ dugout as physical therapists applied cold compress on the injured knee.
“I felt my right knee lock,” said the 26-year-old Alas.
Alas is averaging 9.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 4.0 assists in the series.
San Miguel coach Leo Austria acknowledges one thing going for the Beermen.
“We’re used to pressure,” Austria said on Saturday night after a gripping 100-94 Game 5 decision of Barangay Ginebra that wrapped up their Final Four series.
“This is history and we’ve been through a lot of pressure situations before.” —RANDOLPH B. LEONGSON, INQUIRER.NET
MAGNOLIA 87—Barroca 18, Lee 15, Ramos 15, Sangalang 12, Simon 7, Dela Rosa 6, Pascual 4, Reavis 4, Brondial 2, Gamalinda 2, Jalalon 2, Herndon 0, Mendoza 0
NLEX 78—Ravena 21, Mallari 13, Soyud 11, Fonacier 9, Miranda 8, Quiñahan 8, Rios 3, Taulava 2, Tiongson 2, Baguio 1, Alas 0
Quarters: 20-20, 37-36, 59-58, 87-78