Jamaal Franklin came up huge in crunchtime as Converge escaped Magnolia in a thrilling 111-109 victory to stay perfect through three games in the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup at the Ynares Center in Antipolo on Sunday, Jan 29.
The former NBA player scored the last five points for the FiberXers before leaning on their defense particularly on Hotshots import Eric McCree, who missed his three-point buzzer-beater attempt.
The win allowed Converge to seize the early lead in the standings.
Franklin first nailed two crucial free throws to douse a fiery 9-0 run from the Hotshots before drilling another booming triple over the outstretched arms of Rome Dela Rosa moments after to give the FiberXers some breathing space, 111-105 with 1:04 left.
McCree, carrying Magnolia on his back, scored on an and-1 play to keep Magnolia within striking distance. Franklin had the chance to put the game to rest in the Converge’s next possession but turned the ball over, giving the Hotshots a shot of stealing the game in the final 10 seconds.
McCree, already with 38 points in an impressive debut for the Hotshots, however, couldn’t hit the biggest shot in the end game as Abu Tratter and Jeron Teng bothered him enough on his three-point try.
Franklin finished with 26 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists while Maverick Ahanmisi also sustained his fine play with 22 points. Averaging just six points through the first two games, Alec Stockton also provided Converge a huge lift with 18 points.
It was also when Stockton was forced to sit down after being assessed with a flagrant foul penalty one, the Hotshots made their last-ditch run which cut a 106-95 lead to single digit.
A triple from Jerrick Ahanmisi triggered the run before McCree scored six straight points in just one possession due to the F1 infraction. The run, however, proved to be short-lived behind Franklin’s big hits down the stretch.
McCree added 16 rebounds to his name while Paul Lee added 22 points in a losing effort for Magnolia which couldn’t open the season-ending conference on a winning note.