MAGNOLIA leaned on its star guard who wasn’t supposed to be playing as it walloped Alaska, 108-95, to jumpstart its PBA Philippine Cup campaign on Wednesday night at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
Paul Lee, earlier listed as doubtful due to an MCL injury, delivered a vintage performance with 30 points on a scorching 11-of-14 shooting, on top of seven boards, and six assists to lead the Hotshots to the victory to open their season.
“Thanks to Paul Lee,” Hotshots coach Chito Victolero said. “Tatlong araw pa lang nagpa-practice 'yan. Iba talaga yung puso ng bata. He wants to play and help the team.”
“I’m also thankful to the rest of my players,” he added as he missed Rafi Reavis (hip), Marc Pingris (kidney stones operation), and Jio Jalalon (MCL). “They know we’re undermanned, so they knew they had to step up.”
Bambam Gamalinda was among those players as the veteran wingman made the most of his starting gig, firing all his 15 points in the first three quarters and adding one board, and one assist without a turnover in 21 minutes.
Rome dela Rosa and Ian Sangalang were the other two Hotshots who scored in double figures with 13 and 10 points, respectively, while Kyle Pascual and 37-year-old PJ Simon chipped in nine points apiece.
Robbie Herndon, another player listed as doubtful due to back spasms, also came to play to make his pro debut, contributing nine points, seven boards, and one steal in almost 20 minutes.
The rookie wingman saved his best for last, scoring his last two points on a tough, crucial jumper that proved to be the dagger as it put them up at 105-95 after the Aces came to within a single-digit gap.
Calvin Abueva led the Aces with 20 points, 15 boards, five assists, and one block, while Vic Manuel also registered 20 points, along with eight rebounds, and one steal that went to waste.
MAGNOLIA 108 – Lee 30, Gamalinda 15, Sangalang 13, Dela Rosa 10, Simon 9, Herndon 9, K. Pascual 9, Barroca 6, Melton 3, Ramos 2, Brondial 2
ALASKA 95 – Abueva 20, Manuel 20, Teng 16, Casio 10, R. Pascual 7, Enciso 5, Exciminiano 5, Banchero 4, Thoss 3, J. Pascual 2, Cruz 2, Magat 1, Racal 0
Quarterscores: 21-26, 57-47, 87-74, 108-95