MANILA, Philippines – Paul Lee saved the day for Magnolia and hit the floater that allowed them to escape Barangay Ginebra, 96-95, in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals at the PhilSports Arena on Friday, December 16.
Lee turned a loose ball into the game-winning play, beating the buzzer over the outstretched hands of Justin Brownlee as the Hotshots got back at the Gin Kings after losing by 3 points in Game 1 to knot the best-of-five duel at 1-1.
All hope seemed lost for Magnolia when Lee saw his pass to Calvin Abueva deflected, but the hot-shooting guard recovered the ball and sank the go-ahead bucket, finishing with a team-high 24 points on a sizzling 69% clip.
That clutch shot preserved the endgame heroics of Mark Barroca, who scored 6 of his 8 points in the final 2:30 minutes as he gave the Hotshots a 94-92 lead.
Ginebra, though, seized the upper hand anew and grabbed a 95-94 advantage off a clutch three-pointer from Stanley Pringle with 5.1 ticks remaining.
But Lee had other plans, releasing the ball just in the nick of time as the Hotshots avoided a precarious 0-2 deficit that would have put them on the verge of being swept.
Nick Rakocevic delivered for Magnolia with a monster double-double of 23 points, 20 rebounds, and 3 blocks to make up for his ejection in Game 1 that left the Hotshots without an import for much of the second half.
Gin Kings reinforcement Justin Brownlee also recovered from his dismal outing in the series opener with a game-high 34 points on top of 5 assists and 4 rebounds, but his upgraded performance went down the drain in the loss.
Magnolia 96 – Lee 24, Rakocevic 23, Jalalon 15, Abueva 10, Barroca 8, Sangalang 6, Ahanmisi 5, Dionisio 3, Dela Rosa 2, Corpuz 0, Wong 0.
Barangay Ginebra 95 – Brownlee 34, Pringle 17, Thompson 12, Tenorio 8, Malonzo 7, J.Aguilar 6, Standhardinger 6, Mariano 5, Pessumal 0, Gray 0.
Quarters: 27-32, 51-50, 73-78, 96-95.