by Jonas Terrado
Magnolia arranged an early playoff showdown with Barangay Ginebra San Miguel while giving Alaska another lifeline as the PBA Philippine Cup eliminations drew to a close Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Hotshots dismantled the NLEX Road Warriors, 102-74, to finish sixth at 6-5 and seal a best-of-three “Manila Clasico” quarters duel with Ginebra which starts on Saturday.
“We achieved our goal which is to get the No. 6 seed,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero while crediting his team’s defensive effort.
Paul Lee fired 26 points spiked by six three-pointers to spark Magnolia’s most lopsided victory of the conference.
NLEX fell to 4-7, assuring Alaska of a playoff for the No. 8 seed on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Both teams along with Columbian share identical records but the latter was already eliminated from contention due to an inferior quotient.
Alaska’s opponent will be determined after the matchup between NorthPort and Ginebra which was being played at presstime.
A win enables NorthPort to clinch the No. 7 seed in the playoffs and a duel with twice-to-beat Rain or Shine, the second-ranked team after the elims.
Defeat, however, relegates the Batang Pier to a do-or-die encounter with the Aces while giving the Road Warriors the seventh seed because of a superior quotient.
The Batang Pier came into the match carrying a 4-6 record.
Bong Galanza was the lone double-digit scorer with 10 points for NLEX, which shot just 31 percent from the field.
MAGNOLIA 102 — Lee 26, Ramos 15, Barroca 14, Sangalang 10, Jalalon 8, Herndon 6, Melton 5, Simon 5, Brondial 5, Reavis 2, Gamalinda 2, Dela Rosa 2, Pascual 2, Calisaan 0, Abundo 0.
NLEX 74 — Galanza 10, Ighalo 9, Tallo 8, Quinahan 8, Erram 7, Rios 6, Paniamogan 6, Varilla 6, Magat 6, Soyud 4, Baguio 2, Lao 2, Tiongson 0, Taulava 0, Paredes 0.
Quarters: 20-16; 46-30; 77-54; 102-74.