Magnolia stayed unbeaten in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup after outlasting Barangay Ginebra, 89-79, in the first Manila Clasico clash of the season, Sunday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
Paul Lee scored 22 points on just 5-for-19 shooting, but also went 9-for-9 from the free throw line while also adding three rebounds and three assists. Ian Sangalang tallied 17 points and three boards for the Hotshots, who strengthened their hold atop the standings alongside Rain or Shine at 3-0.
Calvin Abueva narrowly missed a double-double by collecting 15 points and nine boards off the bench, while Mark Barroca also scored 15 and registered six assists, two rebounds, and a steal.
"It started on defense. We had a goal, and we achieved that goal on defense," remarked a satisfied head coach Chito Victolero after the game. "We also had a good start in the third quarter. Credit to Paul and his teammates."
Magnolia shot just 35.4 percent from the field, but put the clamps on a Ginebra offense loaded with options from top to bottom and held their counterparts to just 34.9 percent, including a shabby 6-for-28 mark on 3s (21.4 percent).
Ahead by just four, 46-42, after two quarters of play, Magnolia turned it up on the defensive side in a tremendous third quarter where they held an icy Gin Kings offense to just 14 points on 19 percent shooting (4-for-21).
The Hotshots' activity on that end of the floor translated to gains on offense, where they led by as many as 16, 65-49, in a 19-7 start right after the halftime break. Abueva led the charge with eight of the team's 21 points during that 12-minute span.
Ginebra, though, climbed back in the fourth quarter, where Stanley Pringle took control and scored seven straight points, capped by an impressive finish through traffic that helped his team pull within two, 77-79, with 3:36 left.
Magnolia, however, had answers in Lee and Sangalang, with the wily guard coupling a pair of free throws with a layup to hike their lead to 83-77 with over 2:26 left.
After yet another Pringle basket in the following possession, Sangalang bailed out the Hotshots offense with a layup to beat the shot clock and restore the advantage back to six.
Another pair of free throws by Lee after drawing contact on a jumper made it an 87-79 lead with 1:09 left to help the Hotshots comfortably cruise the rest of the way.
As satisfied as Victolero is over the team's win, he said his Hotshots still have a ton of work to do in order to reach their "ultimate goal" at the end of the conference.
"We're not looking at this good start. What matters is our journey and the destination," he remarked. "It's a great start, yes, but we will be humble and we will continue putting in the work."
"We'll take it one game at a time. We'll try to prepare for our next game. A lot of things can still happen, so we won't relax in order to get to our ultimate goal. We will try to find ways to win and prepare harder," he added, downplaying their win in the always anticipated 'Manila Clasico.'
Ginebra, on the other hand, slid to 1-2 and failed to follow up on an impressive win against Blackwater last Friday.
Pringle paced the defending champions by scoring 22 points, including 16 of their final 23 points in the fourth period, and tallied seven rebounds, six assists, and two steals. Scottie Thompson and Christian Standhardinger scored 13 apiece and added 12 and 11 rebounds, respectively, while LA Tenorio also added with 13.
Magnolia 89 -- Lee 22, Sangalang 17, Abueva 15, Barroca 15, Corpuz 9, Jalalon 5, Dela Rosa 4, Reavis 2, Dionisio 0, Pascual 0, Ahanmisi 0.
Ginebra 79 -- Pringle 22, Tenorio 13, Standhardinger 13, Thompson 13, J. Aguilar 9, Chan 9, Caperal 0, Dillinger 0, Ayaay 0, Devance 0, R. Aguilar 0.
Quarter Scores: 22-22, 46-42, 67-56, 89-79.
- Magnolia outrebounded Ginebra 59-48 and had more second-chance points, 17-9.
- Rome dela Rosa was a game-high +14 and tallied four points, seven rebounds, three assists, and a steal in 28 minutes.
- Magnolia vs. Terrafirma on July 30, Friday, 12:30 p.m., at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig
- Barangay Ginebra vs. NorthPort on July 30, Friday, 3:00 p.m., at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig