Magnolia rages back behind Paul Lee, completes huge swing to beat NLEX

Published October 14, 2020, 10:01 PM

by Jonas Terrado

Paul Lee’s four-point play in the fourth was crucial. (PBA Images)

Magnolia charged back from a 22-point deficit behind its trademark defense to stun NLEX 103-100 Wednesday night for its first win in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center.

Paul Lee scored a four-point play off Tony Semerad’s sixth and final foul to make it 101-100 with 32.5 seconds left before the Road Warriors’ Kiefer Ravena missed his final two attempts as the Hotshots pulled off the victory after being down 70-48 in the third.

It was the franchise’s biggest comeback since exactly 15 years ago when the Purefoods Chunkee Giants came back from 29 down to produce an 86-84 overtime win over the Alaska Aces in the 2005-06 PBA Fiesta Conference eliminations.

Coach Chito Victolero credited his team for turning up a notch in the fourth as its full-court press forced NLEX to commit 10 turnovers in the quarter, which the Hotshots converted into 12 points.

Guards Jio Jalalon, Mark Barroca and Chris Banchero, who topscored with 19 points, were key in the big rally on both ends, resulting in NLEX falling to 0-2 inside the bubble.

“Kung hindi kami maglalaro ng game namin, malamang magiging kwarenta na yung lamang,” said Victolero. “It was a total team effort and we will learn from this experience.”

Ravena, who struggled in the Road Warriors’ 102-92 defeat to Barangay Ginebra San Miguel last Sunday, bounced back with 27 points, including a fadeaway shot that gave NLEX a 99-97 lead with 1:17 to go in the fourth.

But Lee used a screen before connecting on a three plus a foul on Semerad to restore Magnolia’s lead after making the bonus free throw.

NLEX tried to take the lead back but Ravena’s contested jumper from the foul line rattled out. Ravena fouled Barroca, who made both foul throws for a 103-100 advantage, 15.6 left.

Ravena tried to force overtime with a three but his shot failed to connect as time expired.

The Road Warriors lost key players when needed for various reasons with Kevin Alas (17 points) and JR Quinahan (16 points) fouling out and Jericho Cruz (17 points) hurting his ankle in the fourth.