PBA: Magnolia closes in on finals, holds off Meralco
MANILA, Philippines—Magnolia held off Meralco, 81-69, for a 3-1 lead in their best-of-7 semifinals series in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup Sunday at DHSVU Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
The Hotshots managed to cling on to their lead after the Bolts mounted a strong comeback in the fourth where they got back from an 18-point lead, 68-50, to get to as close as five, 74-69, following Reynel Hugnatan’s three with 2:37 to play.
Mark Barroca, however, regained stability for Magnolia answering with his own three-pointer a possession later for the 77-69 lead with 2:12 remaining in the game.
Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero said he knew that a comeback run from the Bolts was always going to happen, he just didn’t know that it would take place late in the game.
“We expected the run, we just don’t know when,” said Victolero. “I told my players that we have to weather the storm, we have to be composed, because we know that Meralco will make a comeback.”
“This wasn’t an easy game but with the experience of Mark and my players, they were able to remain composed in our last possession. Mark hit the three and that’s it, we weathered the storm. It took multiple effort from start to finish on both ends of the floor.”
Barroca was just one of three players from Magnolia to score 17 points with Calvin Abueva putting up 17 points and 12 rebounds while Ian Sangalang pitching in his own double-double of 17 points and 11 boards.
Hugnatan had a game-high 21 points with nine rebounds to lead the Bolts.