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    Magnolia barges into PBA Finals after Game Six win over Meralco

    Oct 15, 2021
    Magnolia forward Calvin Abueva dives for a loose ball against Nards Pinto of Meralco in Game Six.
    Magnolia forward Calvin Abueva dives for a loose ball against Nards Pinto of Meralco in Game Six.
    PHOTO: PBA Images

    MAGNOLIA punched the first ticket to the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup Finals on Friday after a 93-85 win over Meralco in Game 6 at the Don Honorio Ventura State University gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.

    The Hotshots overcame a fiery 11-0 start by the Bolts, the offensive struggles of Paul Lee, and the disqualification of Calvin Abueva due to six fouls in the fourth quarter to make it back to the finals after a season's absence.

    Ian Sangalang had his typical numbers on offense with 19 points but Rome Dela Rosa, usually known for his defense, provided a big lift by scoring 16, including three-pointers that helped the Hotshots put away the Bolts in the series, 4-2.

    The Hotshots face the winner of the other best-of-seven semifinal between San Miguel and TNT, which play a Game Seven on Sunday.

    Mark Barroca of Magnolia pulls up for a jumper against Meralco in Game Six.

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    Mark Barroca also scored 16 points and put the finishing touches to the win as Magnolia returns to the finals after bowing out at the quarterfinal stage during the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup bubble at Clark in Pampanga.

    “Credit to all of them. Grabe talaga ang tinrabaho nila. Alam nila na sobrang mahihirapan kami. We faced the number two [seeded] team. Talagang grabe ‘yung effort din ng Meralco,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero.

    The Hotshots lost to San Miguel during its last trip to thePhilippine Cup Finals in 2019.

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      Sangalang carried the load for Magnolia as he also grabbed 14 rebounds, six assists, two steals, and three blocks, stepping up as top scorer Lee went 0-of-9 from the field and finished with just four points in Game Six.

      Dela Rosa went 4-of-5 from three-point distance and one trey gave Magnolia its first lead of the game at 36-35, after that torrid start by Meralco.

      His final three of the game earned Magnolia an 83-74 lead after Meralco came within four, the closest it got in the fourth quarter. Barroca’s runner with 1:46 left widened the lead back to nine, 89-80, to all but seal the victory.

      'Beast' fouls out

      Abueva scored 11 points including a trey that gave Magnolia its biggest lead of the match at 68-57, before fouled out in the 4:37 mark of the fourth.

      Raymond Almazan tallied 16 points and 12 rebounds while Chris Newsome and Allein Maliksi, playing with a fractured cheek bone, had 14 and 13 points apiece. Maliksi fouled out with 2:44 left in the game.

      Nards Pinto suffered cramps in the third quarter and never returned as Meralco crashed out at the semifinal stage again after missing the 2020 bubble finals on a late three by Scottie Thompson in Game 5 against Barangay Ginebra.

      The scores:

      Magnolia 93 – Sangalang 19, Barroca 16, Dela Rosa 16, Jalalon 11, Abueva 11, Melton 6, Reavis 6, Corpuz 4, Lee 4, Ahanmisi 0.

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      Meralco 85 – Almazan 16, Newsome 14, Maliksi 13, Pinto 10, Hodge 9, Caram 7, Quinto 7, Hugnatan 6, Belo 3, Black 0, Pasaol 0.

      Quarters: 20-27; 44-40; 72-68; 93-85.

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      Magnolia forward Calvin Abueva dives for a loose ball against Nards Pinto of Meralco in Game Six.
      PHOTO: PBA Images
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