PBA Commissioner’s Cup

No walk in the park: Magnolia still wary despite extending years-long win streak vs Phoenix

Delfin Dioquino

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No walk in the park: Magnolia still wary despite extending years-long win streak vs Phoenix

DEFENDED. Tyler Bey in action for the Magnolia Hotshots in the 2023-24 PBA Commissioner's Cup.

PBA Images

Magnolia reasserts its mastery over Phoenix as it draws first blood to kick off their best-of-five semifinals in the PBA Commissioner's Cup

MANILA, Philippines – Beating Phoenix has become quite like a habit for Magnolia.

The Hotshots extended their years-long winning streak over the Fuel Masters with an 82-79 victory on Wednesday, January 24, to kick off their best-of-five semifinals in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.

But as the close score indicated, Magnolia has its hands full.

“It is hard to play against them. This is not the old Phoenix anymore,” said Hotshots guard Paul Lee in Filipino. “They worked hard to be in this position.”

“The semifinals will not be a walk in the park.”

Phoenix reached the semifinals for the first time since the 2020 Philippine Cup, doing so by eliminating Magnolia in the quarterfinals of that conference held inside a bubble at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

But the Fuel Masters have not beaten the Hotshots since, with Magnolia winning their next eight meetings by an average of 16.1 points, according to PBA chief statistician Fidel Mangonon.

The Hotshots stretched that winning streak to nine games on Wednesday, thanks to a clutch connection between Paul Lee and import Tyler Bey, who finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds.

With the game tied at 78-78, Lee kept his poise amid a broken play and found Bey underneath the basket for a three-point play that gave Magnolia an 81-78 edge – just enough separation to fend off the stubborn Phoenix.

The Fuel Masters earned a crack at a potential game-tying basket, but Jason Perkins missed his three-pointer at the buzzer.

“I’m glad Tyler converted it and we managed to hold a slim edge near the end of the game. That was a crucial moment,” said Lee.

Lee backstopped Bey with 11 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists, while Mark Barroca came off the bench and supplied 10 points and 4 steals.

Calvin Abueva, a member of the last Phoenix crew that made the semifinals, finished with 9 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals against his former team.

The Hotshots, who aim to make it 2-0 on Friday, also drew solid performances from Ian Sangalang (8 points and 8 rebounds) and Jio Jalalon (7 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds).

Perkins delivered a game-high 25 points with 5 rebounds and 2 steals as he carried the scoring load for the Fuel Masters, with import Johnathan Williams limited to a conference-low 11 points.

Williams, though, still put up 18 rebounds, 7 assists, and 2 blocks.

RJ Jazul scored 13 points and Javee Mocon tallied 11 points and 2 steals in the losing effort.

The Scores

Magnolia 82 – Bey 23, Lee 11, Barroca 10, Abueva 9, Sangalang 8, Dionisio 8, Jalalon 7, Laput 6, Dela Rosa 0, Tratter 0, Mendoza 0.

Phoenix 79 – Perkins 25, Jazul 13, Mocon 11, Williams 11, Tio 6, Tuffin 5, Garcia 3, Manganti 3, Lalata 2, Verano 0, Rivero 0, Soyud 0, Alejandro 0, Daves 0, Camacho 0.

Quarters: 18-16, 38-41, 61-60, 82-79.

– Rappler.com

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.