PBA: Converge seizes solo lead with slim win over Magnolia

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 29 2023 07:30 PM | Updated as of Jan 29 2023 08:03 PM

Maverick Ahanmisi and the Converge FiberXers improved to 3-0 in the PBA Governors' Cup. PBA Images.
Maverick Ahanmisi and the Converge FiberXers improved to 3-0 in the PBA Governors' Cup. PBA Images.

MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) The Converge FiberXers stayed unbeaten in the 2023 PBA Governors' Cup after escaping with a thrilling 111-109 triumph over the Magnolia Hotshots on Sunday night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.

The FiberXers nearly squandered a 14-point lead in the final quarter, but they held on for the victory after Magnolia import Erik McCree misfired on a potential game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer. 

In outlasting a perennial contender in Magnolia, Converge improved to 3-0 and seized the solo lead in the conference. The Hotshots, meanwhile, lost in their Governors' Cup debut.

Converge import Jamaal Franklin had an all-around effort of 26 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists, though he also accumulated six turnovers. Maverick Ahanmisi continued his fine start to the conference, contributing 22 points, while Alec Stockton had 18 points.

"What we did right now was, our approach was very general. So kung ano 'yung ginagawa namin na regular, 'yun lang ang ginawa namin," said Converge coach Aldin Ayo, who felt that the FiberXers were at a disadvantage in the game as they had yet to scout Magnolia and McCree.

"Nothing specific, because well, wala kaming reference. Wala kaming basehan kung ano ang gagawin namin sa kanila," he added.

Despite this, the FiberXers were able to force the Hotshots to play at their pace, and built a 99-85 lead with under seven minutes to go off a Jeron Teng layup. They looked headed for a comfortable victory after Franklin soundly rejected a Rome dela Rosa layup, keeping them in control, 106-95, with four minutes left.

But a wide-open three-pointer by Jerrick Ahanmisi sparked a 9-0 Magnolia run, with McCree scoring six points in a single possession. The import nailed a three-pointer and drew a flagrant foul against Stockton, coolly hitting the free throw. In the ensuing bonus possession, McCree threw down a dunk to put Magnolia within two points, 106-104, with still 2:26 to play.

The Hotshots were still within three points, 108-105, with 1:28 to play off a Paul Lee free throw when Franklin took over. Against superb defense by dela Rosa, the import stepped back for a triple that pushed Converge's lead to six points, 111-105, with still 65 seconds to go.

Magnolia last threatened when McCree completed a three-point play to make it a one-possession game, 111-109, with 30.9 ticks left. The Hotshots forced Franklin into a turnover in their next trip down, giving them 9.8 seconds with which to force a tie or win the game.

But McCree couldn't convert his three-point attempt as time expired, allowing the FiberXers to escape with the slim win.

McCree had 38 points, 16 rebounds, and two dimes in the loss, while Lee finished with 21 points, five boards, and four assists in 31 minutes.

Magnolia played without veteran forward Calvin Abueva for the final 9:25 of the game, after "The Beast" fouled out. He had 12 points and four rebounds before making an early exit.

The Scores:

CONVEGRE 111– Franklin 26, Ahanmisi 22, Stockton 18, Melecio 14, Teng 11, Arana 8, Balanza 6, Tratter 4, Ambohot 2, Racal 0, Murrell 0

MAGNOLIA 109 – Mccree 38, Lee 21, Jalalon 13, Abueva 12, Escoto 7, Ahanmisi 5, Wong 4, Dela Rosa 3, Sangalang 2, Barroca 2, Dionisio 2, Corpuz 0

QUARTERS: 28-23, 50-47, 84-73, 111-109.

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