With huge win, Magnolia completes quarterfinal cast
Breaking out of the gates with all guns cocked and firing, Magnolia on Wednesday night easily disposed of Rain or Shine, 118-87, to hasten the completion of the PBA Philippine Cup’s playoff cast while also giving the Hotshots the chance to fulfill their target of being the No. 3 seeds at the end of the eliminations.
Despite taking a 31-21 lead after the first 12 minutes at Smart Araneta Coliseum, the Hotshots kept the pedal to the metal the rest of the way for easily one of their most impressive wins in what is now a six-game streak, rising to 7-3 and tying idle Barangay Ginebra for third spot.
“I think we’re peaking at the right time,” Magnolia coach Chito Victolero said after getting seven players in twin digits. “I think this is one of the few games we’re truly complete. Hopefully, going into the playoffs, we can stay healthy.”
The loss was the first in the last four games for the Elasto Painters, who bowed out of contention with a 4-7 card as a result of a 92-90 Converge win over Blackwater earlier.
That also means that NorthPort and Phoenix—which were hoping for a Rain or Shine win to stay alive—are off to early vacations.
Finishing third carries a big weight as far as Victolero is concerned, as he said taking momentum into the first round of the playoffs, where the No. 3 seed plays No. 6 in a best-of-three series, is important.
“We made it clear what we are playing for and that was to give us a higher chance at making the playoffs,” Converge coach Jeff Cariaso said. “[This] being our very first conference motivated us even more.”
Justin Arana came through in the crunch time, delivering big plays that helped the FiberXers wrap their elimination round at 5-6 and send the Bossing reeling with their fifth loss in 10 outings.
The fourth overall pick of the Rookie Draft hit two tough baskets—one to knot the game at 90-all and another to put Converge ahead with 8.4 ticks left.
In between those crucial shots, the Arellano standout also erased JVee Casio’s floater.
“I guess my mindset was just to make up for my sloppy play earlier. It was embarrassing to my coaches,” said Arana who finished with 13 points.
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