MANILA (UPDATED) - The Magnolia Hotshots found their groove in the fourth quarter, pulling away for an 88-79 triumph over the Meralco Bolts in Game 1 of their semifinal series in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup, Sunday at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Trailing by three points, 64-61, entering the final frame, the Hotshots proceeded to outscore the Bolts, 27-12, in the payoff period to take complete control of the contest.
Ian Sangalang earned Player of the Game honors with 18 points and 10 rebounds, giving the Hotshots stability while Calvin Abueva (13 points, seven boards) dealt with foul trouble. Paul Lee added 17 points and veteran Rafi Reavis grabbed 10 rebounds as Magnolia took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-7 series.
"It's always a tough game, it's always a dog fight (against Meralco)," said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero, whose team lost at the buzzer to the Bolts in their elimination round game.
"Both teams naman, may pride diyan eh. And they have a system also, they are a defensive team also. Kumbaga, duguan bago ka maka-score eh. So it's all about the discipline and execution siguro," he added.
Abueva's presence in the fourth period proved decisive. "The Beast" played just 10 minutes in the first three quarters as he was saddled with five fouls, but he came alive in the fourth period and scored eight points on 3-of-5 shooting.
The Bolts led 69-63 with 10 minutes to go off an Allein Maliksi three-pointer, but Magnolia scored 10 unanswered points to surge ahead, 73-69, with five minutes left.
A steal and a slam dunk by Abueva pushed their lead to double-digits, 82-72, with just 2:45 to play, and the Bolts would fade away from there.
Bong Quinto led Meralco with 14 points, while Mac Belo and Anjo Caram each had 11 markers.
The Scores :
MAGNOLIA 88 – Sangalang 18, Lee 17, Abueva 13, Jalalon 12, Barroca 11, Reavis 9, Dela Rosa 6, Dionisio 2, Corpuz 0, Ahanmisi 0, Pascual 0
MERALCO 79 – Quinto 14, Belo 11, Caram 11, Hugnatan 10, Almazan 9, Newsome 8, Pinto 6, Hodge 7, Maliksi 3, Pasaol 0
Quarters : 22-17, 47-40, 61-64, 88-79