The Hotshots would not be denied this time around.
Failing to make the big shots in the endgame of Game 1, Paul Lee came through with the biggest basket, a bank shot off a broken play and at the buzzer to help Magnolia escape Ginebra, 96-95, in Game 2 of their best-of-five semifinals in the 2022 Commissioner’s Cup at the PhilSports Arena.
With the Kings up by one with 5.1 seconds left, Lee showed nerves of steel as he kissed his game-winning shot off the glass after a botched play that saw the Kings break the initial setup of the Hotshots.
Lee actually wanted to go to Calvin Abueva who was cutting through the baseline but the pass was tapped by Japeth Aguilar. The ball bounced back to Lee’s hands who then went for the shot that helped Magnolia equalize the series 1-1 – much to the delight for the Hotshots faithful and the dismay of the legion of the Kings fans inside the venue.
“Nagconcentrate ang ako dun sa tira ko di ko na inisip kung may time pa ba, kasi kapag minadali ko yung tira ko inisip ko kung aabot yung tira mas lalong di magiging maganda yung tira ko,” said Lee who was crowded by his teammates after making the clutch floater.
“Sakin kung abutin ng shot clock, abutin ng shot clock, thank God enough lang ‘yung time na maitira ko yung bola ng mas maayos,” he added.
Lee finished with 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field while import Nick Rakocevic made up for his Game 1 ejection with a solid outing of 23 points and 20 rebounds. Jio Jalalon added 15 points while Calvin Abueva added 10.
Despite the splendid performance from the Hotshots, they still found themselves trailing for the most part of the contest, although they managed to keep themselves within striking distance.
It was a nip-and-tuck affair in the third frame with both teams simply trading big shots after big shots as the Kings tried to protect a precarious two-point lead, 90-88, with 2:37 to go in the game.
Mark Barroca then came alive for Magnolia scoring on a layup to tie the game before drilling a long bomb that answered the two free throws from Justin Brownlee and shove the Hotshots ahead, 93-92.
Barroca had the chance to ice the game from the foul line but split his charities allowing Stanley Pringle to give the lead back to Ginebra after a beautiful step-back three pointer with 5.1 seconds left.
After being held to his lowest output this conference in Game 1, Brownlee exploded for 34 points while Pringle and Scottie Thompson added 17 and 12, respectively. Their efforts however went down the drain as the semifinals series is now reduced to a virtual best-of-three affair with Game 3 happening on Sunday.