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MANILA, Philippines – Magnolia sure learned a thing or two about protecting a huge lead from its conference-opening loss to Meralco as it picked up its first victory in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the expense of NorthPort.
Wasting a 16-point advantage in their 92-98 loss to the Bolts, the defending champion Hotshots this time built a 31-point cushion and cruised to a 96-90 win over the Batang Pier on Friday, September 27.
“Everybody learned from it and they continue to grow and we all continue to grow and we just learned that there are no easy games,” said import Romeo Travis, who led the team to the title last year.
“Even when you get up a lot of points, there’s a lot of minutes in this game – this is a 48-minute game – so there’s always an opportunity for the team to come back so you have to keep your foot on the gas and keep going.”
Magnolia, though, initially looked like it was still reeling from its meltdown against Meralco after ending the opening quarter trailing 16-23 against NorthPort.
But it did not take long for the Hotshots to find their groove, uncorking 37 points and limiting the Batang Pier to just 8 points in a masterful second-quarter showing as they seized a 53-31 halftime lead and never looked back.
“We started off slow so I was frustrated with the guys and myself by the way we started the game off,” said Travis, who had a near triple-double of 17 points, 12 rebounds, 9 assists, and 3 steals.
“But I’m happy how we picked up our defense and we bounced back and we kind of played together throughout the 2nd and 3rd quarters.”
According to Travis, that kind of performance is what they need to showcase if they want to defend their throne.
“We can continue that energy and effort throughout the rest of this conference we’ll be a team, you know, in the playoffs and we can go fight for a championship.”
Magnolia will have a week to prepare as it shoots for its second straight win when it meets Rain or Shine next Friday, October 4, at the Mall of Asia Arena. – Rappler.com