MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) The Magnolia Hotshots boosted their playoff hopes after holding off a fourth-quarter rally by TNT Tropang Giga for a 102-92 victory, Wednesday at the Angeles University Foundation Gym in Angeles City, Pampanga.
The Hotshots secured their second consecutive victory to improve to 3-4 in the PBA Philippine Cup. Paul Lee led the way for Magnolia with 27 points, four rebounds and four assists, while Ian Sangalang had 15 points and nine boards.
Mark Barroca did a little bit of everything for the Hotshots, putting up 14 points, seven assists, six boards, and three steals in 30 minutes of action. Chris Banchero finished with 19 points -- including back-to-back layups in the fourth quarter that allowed the Hotshots to pull away.
"We know the firepower of Talk 'N Text, and we just want to slow them down," said Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero. "We don't want what happened to us before na 'yun nga, nagkaroon kami ng malaking lead, and natalo kami."
"Ito 'yung game na hinahanap namin, to test our character," he added.
The Hotshots led by as much as 18 points in the third frame, 61-43, but the Tropang Giga found their mark from the perimeter and were down by just six points, 74-68, at the end of the quarter. Jayson Castro conspired with Ray Parks to bring TNT back, with the two combining for 16 points in the frame.
The Tropang Giga came to within one point, 82-81, with seven minutes to go thanks to a Castro triple. But Sangalang responded with back-to-back buckets, and the Hotshots gained some separation once again. Two consecutive layups by Banchero -- first off a drive, and then off a steal by Barroca -- pushed Magnolia ahead by nine points, 92-83.
Parks tried to bring TNT back within striking distance but the Hotshots shut down their other options. The lead stretched to 14 points with a minute and a half to play, 100-86, off another Banchero make and the Tropang Giga would not recover.
After winning their first five games in the conference, TNT has now lost two of their last three assignments. They were coming off a huge 112-87 blowout of NorthPort the night before, but could not carry that momentum to the second game of a back-to-back.
Parks finished with 29 points and 12 rebounds, while Castro had 25 points. But Troy Rosario had only six markers, and Roger Pogoy got only seven points -- both conference-low outputs for them.
TNT still remains at the top of the league standings with their 6-2 win-loss slate.