MANILA, Philippines – Nick Rakocevic delivered when it mattered most and powered Magnolia to a down-to-the-wire 109-105 win over Converge in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Araneta Coliseum on Saturday, October 1.
Rakocevic scored 9 of his 21 points and grabbed 11 of his 24 rebounds in the fourth quarter as the Hotshots completed their comeback from a 14-point deficit to improve to 2-0.
Fresh from a sensational 45-point, 25-rebound outing in his PBA debut on Wednesday, Rakocevic struggled early against a pesky FiberXers side that limited him to just 5 points in the first half.
But Rakocevic hit his stride down the stretch and sank key buckets that gave Magnolia a cushion big enough to keep Quincy Miller and Converge at bay.
The FiberXers trailed 94-96 with four minutes left before Rakocevic scattered 5 points in a 9-2 run that gave the Hotshots 105-96 advantage.
Rakocevic, though, sat out the final 48 seconds after being slapped with a flagrant foul penalty 1 on RK Ilagan and his teammates stepped up to bring Magnolia home.
The flagrant foul Rakocevic committed after extending his foot on the landing spot of Ilagan during a three-point attempt paved the way for Converge to narrow the gap to a single possession, 102-105.
But Paul Lee and Calvin Abueva drained all of their four free throws in the dying seconds as the Hotshots prevailed.
Lee finished with 20 points, Abueva chimed in 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists, while Mark Barroca posted 19 points despite dislocating the pinky finger of his shooting hand.
Jio Jalalon also came up clutch for Magnolia, tallying 9 of his 15 points in the final quarter and recording 6 assists, and 5 rebounds.
Miller dominated with 38 points, 16 rebounds, and 3 blocks, but he got contained to just 3 points in the fourth quarter where Converge got outscored 38-21.
Rookie big man Justin Arana backstopped Miller with 14 points to go with 9 rebounds and 2 blocks, while Ilagan had 12 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds.
Magnolia 109 – Rakocevic 21, Lee 20, Barroca 19, Jalalon 15, Sangalang 10, Abueva 10, Dionisio 8, Wong 2, Corpuz 2, Reavis 2, Dela Rosa 0.
Converge 105 – Miller 38, Arana 14, Ilagan 12, Teng 11, Ahanmisi 9, Tratter 8, Murrell 6, Stockton 5, Melecio 2, Racal 0, Hill 0, Ambohot 0.
Quarters: 24-24, 40-50, 71-84, 109-105.