Magnolia punched the first ticket to the PBA Philippine Cup finals by closing out Meralco 93-85 in Game 6 of their best-of-7 semifinals Friday at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
It was a tough victory for the Hotshots as they had to quell off the Bolts' uprising in the fourth quarter where Meralco came to within 85-80 in the final three minutes.
"Nakita n'yo naman kung gaano kahirap mag-close ng series, sobrang hirap," said Ian Sangalang, who came up with a double-double effort of 19 points and 14 rebounds.
"Ginawa lang namin talaga kung ano dapat gawin para ma-close ang series na ito."
The Bolts put up a gallant stand with Raymond Almazan leading the way for Meralco with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
Chris Newsome, Allein Maliksi and Nards Pinto also did their part trying to hold down Magnolia's Paul Lee and Calvin Abueva.
Lee was held to just four points while Abueva fouled out after scoring 11.
But Coach Chito Victolero had other offensive options in Mark Barroca and Rome dela Rosa who scored 16 each. Jio Jalalon added 11 markers to go with his seven boards.
After roughing it out with the Bolts in the first two quarters, the Hotshots found an opening after Pinto left the game late in the third due to cramps. Making it even more complicated for the Bolts was Allein Maliksi's departure in the final three minutes due to fouls.
"They gave us a very good series. Grabe rin silang mag-trabaho, grabe rin effort na ibinigay nila," said Victolero.
"But I give credit to my players, especially down the stretch. We executed. Grabe talaga trinabaho nila," he added. "Alam namin na sobrang mahihirapan kami. We faced the No. 2 team and grabe rin talaga effort na ibinibigay nila. Thank God, ibinigay niya rin sa amin ang lakas."
Magnolia will now wait for the victor in the other semis pairing between San Miguel and TNT.
Magnolia 93 - Sangalang 19, Barroca 16, Dela Rosa 16, Jalalon 11, Abueva 11, Melton 6, Reavis 6, Corpuz 4, Lee 4, Brill 0, Ahanmisi 0, De Leon 0, Capobres 0, Pascual 0, Dionisio 0.
Meralco 85 - Almazan 16, Newsome 14, Maliksi 13, Pinto 10, Hodge 9, Caram 7, Quinto 7, Hugnatan 6, Belo 3, Black 0, Jackson 0, Jose 0, Pasaol 0, Baclao 0, Jamito 0.
Quarters: 20-27, 44-40, 72-68, 93-85.