PBA Governors' Cup

Magnolia draws first blood as Meralco blows huge lead

Delfin Dioquino
Magnolia draws first blood as Meralco blows huge lead

SPARK PLUG. Jio Jalalon provides quality minutes off the bench for Magnolia.

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Magnolia overcomes a 17-point deficit thanks to a big third quarter to shock Meralco in Game 1 of their best-of-five semifinals

MANILA, Philippines – Magnolia bucked a lethargic start and banked on a furious third-quarter rally to thwart Meralco, 94-80, in Game 1 of their PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals at the Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday, March 23.

Import Mike Harris showed the way with 26 points, 16 rebounds, and 4 assists as the Hotshots overcame a 17-point deficit by outscoring the Bolts 29-13 in the third period to draw first blood in the best-of-five affair.

Meralco still led by 10 points early in the third quarter off an Allein Maliksi layup, 45-35, before Magnolia uncorked a 17-3 run highlighted by 7 points from Paul Lee for a 52-48 advantage.

The Hotshots’ lead then grew to as big as 14 points as the Bolts failed to retake the upper hand after pulling within a single possession multiple times early in the fourth quarter.

A Chris Banchero triple cut the Meralco deficit to 3 points, 70-73, but Calvin Abueva delivered 8 points in a 19-8 run capped by a Jio Jalalon layup with less than two minutes left as Magnolia made it 92-78.

Jalalon backstopped Harris with 15 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 steals off the bench, while Lee churned out 13 points and 4 rebounds.

Abueva also scored in double figures with 12 points and Mark Barroca added 9 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists.

Despite the comeback win, Hotshots head coach Chito Victolero underlined the need to arrest their tendency for slow starts after they fell 16-33 in the second quarter before they found their rhythm the rest of the way.

“I need to address this with the team and we need to do something about this, because sometimes, we cannot really win a game if we have a bad start,” Victolero said.

While Magnolia managed to find its bearings in the second half, Bolts import Tony Bishop struggled the entire game as he finished with just 10 points – a far cry from his average of 33.5 points in the last two games.

Bishop, who still put up 12 rebounds and 3 assists, scored just 4 points through the first three quarters and shot a dismal 26% (5-of-19) from the field.

Chris Banchero paced Meralco with 16 points and 6 rebounds, while Bong Quinto produced 13 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists off the bench.

The Scores

Magnolia 94 – Harris 26, Jalalon 15, Lee 13, Abueva 12, Barroca 9, Dionisio 7, Dela Rosa 6, Wong 5, Sangalang 1, Brill 0, Corpuz 0, Reavis 0. 

Meralco 80 – Banchero 16, Quinto 13, Bishop 10, Newsome 8, Maliksi 7, Black 7, Baclao 6, Hodge 5, Almazan 4, Caram 2, Hugnatan 2, Jose 0. 

Quarters: 12-22, 35-43, 64-56, 94-80.

– Rappler.com

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.