Magnolia posted a 99-84 win over Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX) in Game 2 to level the the best-of-seven semifinals series of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Season 43 Philippine Cup on Monday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
After finishing only with eight points on a dismal 3-of-10 shooting from the field in Game 1’s 87-88 loss on Saturday, Paul Lee poured in 27 points and three steals as the Hotshots equalized the series to 1-1.
“I’m very happy with Paul (Lee) because he’s in the attack mode,” said Hotshots coach Chito Victolero. “He really liked to win and I hope he sustains that performance. We adjusted a little bit on our defense. And on offense, we moved the ball a little bit.”
Center Ian Sangalang made 18 points and eight rebounds while Mark Barroca piled up 11 points. Rome Dela Rosa and Aldrech Ramos hit 10 points apiece while playmaker Jio Jalalon had nine points and 10 assists for the Hotshots.
The Hotshots opened the game with a 32-20 cushion built by the two free throws of Ramos in the early part of the second quarter and they sustained their hot start in the middle of third canto after the Road Warriors came within 48-54 behind Michael Miranda’s three-pointer in the early part of third period.
Magnolia responded with a blazing 10-0 run anchored by Lee’s two triples and Jalalon’s lay-up to get a 64-48 advantage with 6:23 left in the third period.
The Hotshots were never threatened from that point.
Jay-R Quinahan and Alex Mallari led NLEX with 13 points, but rookie Kiefer was limited to only nine points and seven assists.
The win also gave Magnolia some relief at this point after losing veteran forward Jean Marc Pingris for at least six to eight months due to Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury on his left knee, which he sustained in last Saturday’s Game 1.
But Victolero admitted the loss of Pingris is very huge to them.
“The inspiration that he (Pingris) gives every game is big. Every moment he is texting us to play our best for the team. So we are undermanned right now without him because he is one of my best post up defenders,” said Victolero, who also did not play guard Justin Melton who is day-to-day due to hamstring injury.
Game 3 is set at the Araneta Coliseum.
MAGNOLIA 99 – Lee 27, Sangalang 18, Barroca 11, Dela Rosa 10, Ramos 10, Jalalon 9, Simon 8, Reavis 4, Brondial 2, Pascual 0, Mendoza 0, Gamalinda 0.
NLEX 84 – Quiñahan 13, Mallari 13, Al-Hussaini 10, Ravena 9, Miranda 8, Fonacier 6, Alas 6, Tiongson 6, Soyud 5, Baguio 4, Taulava 4, Monfort 0, Ighalo 0.
Quarters: 27-20, 48-39, 70-62, 99-84.