PBA: Magnolia welcomes Chris Banchero with a victory over Phoenix

Defending champion Magnolia welcomed Chris Banchero on a positive note by defeating Phoenix Pulse 97-81 Wednesday in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome.

Magnolia's Chris Banchero tries to get past Phoenix Pulse's Matthew Wright. (PBA Images)

Magnolia’s Chris Banchero, right, tries to get past Phoenix Pulse’s Matthew Wright. (PBA Images)

Banchero finished with 10 points, five rebounds and three assists in 22 minutes to play a key role in the Hotshots’ second straight win that solidified their grip on six spot with a 5-4 record.

“Nangangapa pa yung bata pero ang maganda sa kanya yung binigay niya sa amin na hustle, energy, yung kanyang push ng bola at yung depensa,” said coach Chito Victolero, whose team nabbed Banchero from Alaska in exchange for Robbie Herndon and Rodney Brondial.

Import Romeo Travis produced 20 points, 16 rebounds, eight assists, two steals and two blocks and Ian Sangalang added 17 points and five rebounds for Magnolia, which stayed in the hunt for a top four finish.

Magnolia is a game behind fourth-running San Miguel Beer (6-3) and a half-game below Barangay Ginebra (5-3).

But the road gets tougher for the Hotshots as they wrap up the eliminations against co-leader NLEX Road Warriors on Sunday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City and TNT KaTropa on Nov. 16 in Davao City.

Import Alonzo Gee scored 24 points and Matthew Wright hit 19 but Phoenix dropped to a tie for 10th with Rain or Shine at 2-7.

Phoenix needs to win its final two games in order to stay in contention for the eighth and final quarterfinals berth.

The Fuel Masters’ remaining games are against the Alaska Aces and the Blackwater Elite on Nov. 13 and 15 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The scores:

MAGNOLIA 97 — Travis 20, Sangalang 17, Lee 15, Banchero 10, Jalalon 9, Dela Rosa 8, Barroca 7, Melton 6, Pingris 4, Reavis 1.

PHOENIX PULSE 81 — Gee 24, Wright 19, Mallari 13, Perkins 8, Napoles 7, Jazul 4, Garcia 3, Chua 2, Marcelo 1, Intal 0, Dennison 0, Kramer 0.

Quarters: 21-12; 41-31; 69-60; 97-81.