Playing a third game in eight days, Magnolia played the way it did previously against two powerhouses to keep its edge going into a critical stretch in its PBA Governors’ Cup schedule.
The Hotshots scored the first eight points against Columbian and never looked back, scoring a 113-95 victory to claim a piece of the elimination round lead and end the Dyip’s agony in the season-ending conference at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao Wednesday night.
And coach Chito Victolero was particularly proud at how his charges came out against the lowly Dyip in improving to 5-1 and tying idle Barangay Ginebra, instead of merely feeding off big wins against San Miguel Beer and Rain or Shine.
“I told them to come out with the same effort regardless of who we play,” Victolero said as the Dyip took a seventh straight defeat to drop out of contention with still four games to play. “Their desire to win was there and that’s what I am happy about.”
Alaska, meanwhile, kept in step with the leaders after dismantling Rain or Shine in the final period for a 106-89 victory in the other game.
The Hotshots get a full week’s rest before playing their next three games in an eight-day stretch.
“Our goal is a twice-to-beat [advantage],” Victolero said. “We have to look at the bigger picture and our real goal is to end the semifinals strong [and finish in the top four at least].”
Romeo Travis led all Magnolia scorers with 32 points, Mark Barroca chipped in 16 and Paul Lee slowed down somewhat with just 13 after torching nets the last two games. Ian Sangalang was the fourth Hotshot in twin digits with 11.
Lee came into this game averaging 25 points, but Victolero didn’t see the need to extend his premier gunner and played him for less than 24 minutes.
Only Travis played for more than three quarters, with the local core getting much-needed rest.
“This is a big game for us, because it solidified our chances [of a top four finish],” Victolero added.
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