MANILA, Philippines – Magnolia rode on a blistering start and staved off Alaska's late stand en route to a 100-84 Game 1 win in the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup finals at the Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday, December 5.
Romeo Travis stuffed the stats sheet with 29 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists while Mark Barroca stabilized the ship in cruchtime as the Hotshots drew first blood in the best-of-seven finals affair.
The Hotshots saw their 21-point lead trimmed to just 8 points midway through the 4th quarter, 76-84, but Barroca restored order by scoring or assisting on their next 9 points for a 93-76 advantage with 3 minutes left.
After the Aces shaved their deficit to a single digit behind a 12-0 spurt, Barroca stole the show with a layup, a steal and a triple to give Magnolia an 89-76 lead.
It didn't end there as the seven-year veteran swiped another steal, assisted a Paul Lee bucket and drained a floater on the next possession to completely dash Alaska's hopes of a comeback.
"He's a veteran," Magnolia coach Chito Victolero said of Barroca. "He knows how to play in the championship series. He did a good job on both ends."
Barroca finished with 16 points, 6 steals, 3 assists and 2 rebounds, Lee delivered 14 markers, 3 rebounds and 2 assists while Jio Jalalon flirted with a triple-double of 7 points, 12 rebounds, 9 assists and 4 steals in the win.
Despite getting into early foul trouble, Ian Sangalang had 10 points and 3 boards while Robbie Herndon had 9 points and 3 rebounds for Magnolia, which is seeking its first championship since 2014.
The Hotshots clicked on both ends as they erected a 15-0 run to start the match and never relinquished the lead.
Import Mike Harris paced the Aces with 20 points, 15 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 blocks but he was limited to only 3 points in the second half as Magnolia remained in control.
Chris Banchero churned out 12 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds and 3 steals and Jeron Teng had 10 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists in the losing effort.
Game 2 is on Friday, December 7, at the Araneta Coliseum.
Magnolia 100 - Travis 29, Barroca 16, Lee 14, Sangalang 10, Herndon 9, Melton 7, Reavis 4, Simon 4, Brondial 0, Dela Rosa 0, Pascual 0, Mendoza 0.
Alaska 84 - Harris 20, Banchero 12, Teng 10, Enciso 9, Casio 7, Racal 6, Manuel 6, Pascual 5, Thoss 3, Galliguez 3, Cruz 3, Baclao 0, Exciminiano 0, Andrada 0.
Quarters: 24-14, 52-40, 77-58, 100-84.
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.