Lee fires 29, Magnolia keeps it alive in tight playoff race

Published November 5, 2020, 3:41 PM

by Jonas Terrado

Magonlia’s Paul Lee shoot a jumper against Terrafirma. (PBA Images)

Magnolia extended its winning streak to three games despite completing a hectic back-to-back after extending the woes of Terrafirma, 103-89, on Thursday in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center.

Defense was again the main reason why the Hotshots were able to solidify their hold on eighth spot in the standings at 4-4 as they capitalized on the Dyip’s struggles shooting the ball while making theirs on the other end to pull away from a seesaw first half.

The Hotshots just led by one, 49-48, seconds into the third when they forced the Dyip to miss their next eight shots while scoring 12 unanswered points to stretch the gap to 60-48, almost midway into the period.

Terrafirma got to within seven, 67-60, but Magnolia closed the quarter on a 9-0 run for a 76-60 advantage going into the fourth.

Chris Banchero’s layup early in the fourth gave the Hotshots their biggest lead at 78-60, leaving the Dyip pondering on another disappointing showing inside the bubble known as Smart Clark Giga City.

“It was a very hard game (against TNT) and yun talaga ang worry namin ng coaching staff. But good thing our defense saved us,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero, whose team played less than 24 hours after its 102-93 mastery of erstwhile solo leader TNT on Wednesday.

Paul Lee dropped 20 of his 29 points in the first half to lead Magnolia, but the win was a collective effort once again.

Rome Dela Rosa made 15 of his 17 points in the second half, Ian Sangalang had 16 points and 10 rebounds and Jackson Corpuz played his former team for the first time and collected 10 points and six rebounds.

The backcourt of Banchero, Mark Barroca, Jio Jalalon and Justin Melton were again efficient, combining for 25 points, 13 rebounds, 22 assists and three steals.

With the latest win, Magnolia moved a game up on idle NLEX (3-5) for eighth and could climb into a tie for seventh with Meralco if the latter falls to Rain or Shine in the second game being played at presstime.

Terrafirma mathematically is still in contention in the playoff race with four games left in the eliminations. CJ Perez once again led the Dyip with 19 points, four rebounds and three steals.

The Dyip led 38-28 in the second quarter before the Hotshots, led by Lee’s offensive outburst, rallied on a 20-8 counter to lead 48-46 at the break.

The scores:

MAGNOLIA 103 — Lee 29, Dela Rosa 17, Sangalang 16, Corpuz 10, Banchero 8, Jalalon 7, Melton 3, Barroca 2, Reavis 2, Abundo 0, Calisaan 0.

TERRAFIRMA 89 — Perez 19, Celda 16, Camson 14, Khobuntin 10, Tiongson 9, Calvo 6, Ramos 6, Adams 5, Gabayni 2, Batiller 1, Cahilig 1, Balagasay 0.

Quarters: 17-18, 48-46, 76-60, 103-89.