Paul Lee took charge in the fourth quarter to help Magnolia Pambansang Manok finish its elimination round assignment on a winning note by defeating San Miguel Beer, 100-90, Sunday, Sept. 19 in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Lee dropped 18 of his game-high 32 points in the final period that saw the Hotshots pull away to end the elims with an 8-3 record while keeping their chances alive in the race for the twice-to-beat advantage.
Ian Sangalang had 15 points and 12 rebounds, rookie Jerrick Ahanmisi scored 11 off the bench and Calvin Abueva added nine points, 10 rebounds and four assists for Magnolia.
Magnolia can gain the second and last twice-to-beat bonus if Meralco drops its final two games against NLEX and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
The Bolts, with a 7-2 record, hold the tiebreaker after their remarkable 95-94 comeback win over the Hotshots last Sept. 1.
“Yung game na to is in our hands. Kumbaga, kontrolado namin. And then the game of the other teams, that’s not in our control. So now, we just try to wait,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero.
“Nagawa namin yung trabaho namin, nagawa namin yung dapat namin gawin. Kung destiny namin, kung talagang ibibigay sa amin ni Lord na mapunta kami sa top two spot, so be it. Kung hindi, we still played a very good game and madadala namin yan sa playoffs,” he added.
The loss put the fourth-running Beermen out of contention for the twice-to-beat after falling to 6-4 with a game left against the Alaska Aces.
A win cements the Beermen the No. 4 seed and a place in the best-of-three quarterfinals given to teams that ends up third to sixth in the standings.
SMB was without its top scorer Terrence Romeo, who suffered an injured right foot during the 110-80 rout of Phoenix Super LPG last Friday.
CJ Perez scored 20 points while Arwind Santos added 18 points and seven rebounds for the Beermen.
The Beermen came back from a 14-point first deficit to take the lead twice, the last when Mo Tautuaa hit two freethrows for 72-70 with 9:41 remaining in the fourth.
But Lee went berserk during a stretch that Magnolia outscoring SMB, 24-11, to take a 95-83 lead on his three-point play with 3:34 to go in the match.
During that run, Lee also knocked down two triples that frustrated the Beermen.
MAGNOLIA 100 — Lee 32, Sangalang 15, Ahanmisi 11, Barroca 9, Dionisio 8, Abueva 8, Pascual 7, Reavis 4, Corpuz 4, Jalalon 2, Dela Rosa 0, De Leon 0.
SAN MIGUEL 90 — Perez 20, Santos 18, Lassiter 13, Pessumal 13, Zamar 9, Fajardo 8, Tautuaa 5, Ross 4, Comboy 0, Sena 0, Gotladera 0, Gamalinda 0.
Quarters: 25-14, 47-39, 66-65, 100-90.