MANILA (UPDATED) - Paul Lee led the way as the Magnolia Hotshots took down San Miguel Beer, 100-90, to remain in the hunt for a Top 2 finish in the elimination round of the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup.
The Hotshots concluded their elimination round campaign on Sunday at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga, finishing with an 8-3 win-loss record.
That keeps them on track for a Top 2 finish, which will give them a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals. The Meralco Bolts (7-2) still have the inside track on the playoff bonus, however.
Lee scored 18 of his conference-high 32 points in the fourth quarter to facilitate the Hotshots' breakaway after the Beermen closed to within one point at the end of the third frame. He shot nine-of-15 from the field and made 11 of 12 free throws, while also dishing out five assists and grabbing four rebounds.
"Thankful ako dahil nag-commit 'yung mga bata, talagang binigay nila lahat. Nagtulong-tulong," said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero, whose players shot 43.2% from the field. "Mabigat na kalaban 'yung San Miguel. Sobrang ang lalim nung ano nila, nung talent nila."
"So tulong-tulong lang talaga kami sa depensa. It's our defense, we grind for 48 minutes, and credit to all the players," he added.
Magnolia clung to a 66-65 lead after the third period, and the game appeared headed for a tight finish as Lee figured in a shooting duel with San Miguel's Marcio Lassiter midway through the final frame.
Lassiter had drilled a triple to trim the deficit to two points, 80-78, but fouled Lee on the other end on a three-point attempt. Lee made all three of his shots for an 83-78 count, only for Lassiter to drain yet another three-pointer on the other end to again make it a two-point game, 83-81, with well over six minutes to play.
It turned out to be the closest that the Beermen would get, however. Lee answered back right away with a three-pointer, then fished for a foul against Chris Ross in their next possession and made two more free throws. He then converted a layup to make it 90-81 with just five minutes left.
A three-point play by Lee pushed the lead to double-digits, 95-83, with just over three minutes to play. The Hotshots wound up outscoring the Beermen, 34-25, in the final period, as Lee went 5-of-6 from the field.
Ian Sangalang had a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Cavin Abueva grabbed 10 boards. Rookie Jerrick Ahanmisi nailed three three-pointers en route to 11 points.
CJ Perez led the way for San Miguel with 20 points, while Arwind Santos added 18 markers and Lassiter finished with 13.
The Beermen dropped to 6-4 heading into their final elimination round game.
MAGNOLIA 100 -- Lee 32, Sangalang 15, Ahanmisi 11, Barroca 9, Abueva 8, Dionisio 8, Pascual 7, Corpuz 4, Reavis 4, Jalalon 2, Brill 0, dela Rosa 0, de Leon 0.
SAN MIGUEL 90 -- Perez 20, Santos 18, Pessumal 13, Lassiter 13, Zamar 9, Fajardo 8, Tautuaa 5, Ross 4, Sena 0, Comboy 0, Gotladera 0, Gamalinda 0.
Quarter-scores: 25-14, 47-39, 66-65, 100-90.