By Adrian Stewart Co
Magnolia Pambansang Manok Hotshots bucked a slow start to beat Meralco Bolts, 92-78, in Game 2 of the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup semifinals on Wednesday night at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Paul Lee led the way with 28 points, including five three-point conversions, while Ian Sangalang and Calvin Abueva added 16 and 11 markers, respectively, for the Hotshots, which surged to a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Down by as much as 12 points at 20-32 midway in the second quarter, the Hotshots leaned on three outside conversions from Lee and inside baskets from Abueva to take a 38-36 halftime lead.
The game was still tight for both teams early in the third with the score tied at 44-all before Magnolia relied on baskets by Justin Melton, Jiovani Jalalon and Jackson Corpuz to build a 64-58 upperhand.
The Hotshots went on to stretch the advantage to 73-61 with inside conversions from Abueva but the Bolts answered with consecutive shots to trim the deficit to 67-75 before Magnolia widened it to 79-67 following another Lee basket.
The Bolts made its last push at 71-79 on four straight points from Nard John Pinto but consecutive scores from Sangalang, Andy Mark Barroca and Rafael Reavis stretched the lead to its largest at 88-75.
“Pinaghandaan naming lahat ng puwede nilang gawin na options especially in their defense. Alam naman namin na this is a defensive battle, and also ‘yung execution namin offense, tumutok din kami diyan,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero.
“It’s a team effort and I’m very happy and I’m very proud because of the commitment na binibigay nila sa depensa namin at saka sa effort na binibigay nila,” he added.
Chris Newsome finished with 18 points, seven assists and four rebounds while Pinto and Bacolodnon Reynel Hugnatan contributed 12 markers apiece for the Bolts.
MAGNOLIA 92 – Lee 28, Sangalang 16, Abueva 11, Dela Rosa 8, Melton 6, Reavis 6, Barroca 4, Corpuz 4, Jalalon 4, Dionisio 3, Pascual 2.
MERALCO 78 – Newsome 18, Pinto 12, Hugnatan 12, Quinto 7, Belo 7, Maliksi 7, Almazan 6, Caram 4, Hodge 3, Jose 2, Pasaol 0, Baclao 0.
Quarterscores: 13-13, 38-36, 64-58, 92-78. /ASC, WDJ