MAGNOLIA secured the No. 3 seed in the PBA Philippine Cup playoffs after a 75-66 beating of Blackwater on Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Hotshots opened the final quarter with a 12-2 run to break open a tight ballgame and roar ahead to a 61-51 lead from which the Bossing never recovered.
Magnolia finished with an 8-3 record in a tie with Barangay Ginebra, but clinched the No. 3 spot by virtue of the winner-over-the-other rule.
The loss was the fifth straight for Blackwater, which was relegated to eighth place for a quarterfinals showdown with top seed San Miguel Beer.
Paul Lee was 5-of-8 from deep to finish with 22 points and lead the way for the Hotshots, who won their last seven games heading to the playoffs where they will meet no. 6 NLEX Road Warriors in a best-of-three series starting on Sunday.
Lee instigated that early Magnolia run in the final period, scoring eight of his output during that stretch when the Hotshots pulled away for good after being held to a 49-49 deadlock at the end of the third.
“Going to the playoffs, we have the momentum,” stressed Magnolia mentor Chito Victolero. “Ang maganda lang kumpleto kami, and we have that mindset and attitude na dadalhin namin sa playoffs.”
Calvin Abueva had an all-around game too, for Magnolia with 15 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists.
In contrast to the Hotshots’ winning run is the sudden turnaround of Blackwater’s fate.
After starting the conference by winning five of their first six games, the Bossing turned cold and ended their elimination round campaign with a 5-6 record.
They actually ended up tied with Converge FiberXers, but their 92-90 heartbreaker against the same team spelled the difference in their place in the standings.
Only rookie Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser finished in double figures for the Bossing with 12 points and seven rebounds.
Magnolia (75) -- Lee 22, Abueva 15, Sangalang 8, Dionisio 7, Corpuz 7, Jalalon 4, Barroca 4, Wong 4, Ahanmisi 2, Dela Rosa 2, Reavis 0.
Blackwater (66) -- Ganuelas-Rosser 12, Suerte 8, Casio 7, Escoto 7, Ular 6, Amer 6, McCarthy 5, Dyke 5, Ayonayon 5, Melton 2, Go 2, Publico 1, Ebona 0
Quarterscores: 13-15; 27-32; 49-49; 75-66.
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