MAGNOLIA proved that it’s not just happy to be in the finals as it stunned San Miguel Beer, 105-103, in Game One of their PBA Philippine Cup title series on Friday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Ian Sangalang highlighted his career performance with the go-ahead free throws as the Hotshots clawed back from 20 points down to draw first blood in the best-of-seven series.
Rafi Reavis preserved the result witha block on Arwind Santos, making up for a controversial non-call when he called a timeout while clearly stepping on the end line.
“From the start, wala naman maniniwala na mananalo kami dito – kami lang in our circle and our families, but we just had to believe,” Hotshots coach Chito Victolero said.
“This doesn’t prove anything, but magandang simula ‘to,” he added.
The Hotshots try to put up an encore in Game Two of the best-of-seven series on Sunday night at MOA Arena.
Sangalang scattered 14 points in the payoff period, finishing with a career-high 29 markers on 13-of-19 shooting, missing a double-double by just one rebound, along with two steals, and one assist in almost 39 minutes as he held his own against June Mar Fajardo.
Rookie wingman Robbie Herndon also rose to the occasion, providing timely offense off the bench by scoring all his eight points in the final frame.
Paul Lee was off target most of the game, missing all but two of his 13 shots, but the 'Lee-thal Weapon' converted when it mattered most, hitting the bank shot that tied the game at 97 with three minutes and 25 seconds left to make it a ballgame after they fell into a 72-52 hole early in the third quarter.
Fajardo led SMB’s early surge, pumping in 19 of his 31 points in the first half, and finishing with 18 boards, three blocks, and one assist, but committing 11 turnovers in almost 43 minutes of play.
Alex Cabagnot flirted with a triple-double of 27 points, nine boards, and nine assists, along with one steal in 42 minutes, but missed the potential go-ahead three-pointer from the right wing with seven seconds left.
The Beermen looked headed for an easy win until the Hotshots tightened their defensive screws in the second half, where they outscored the Beermen, 58-40, including, 30-14, in the payoff period.
The Hotshots thus pulled off the biggest comeback in a finals game since Alaska fought back from a 21-point deficit to beat SMB, 78-70, and take a 3-0 lead in the 2015 Philippine Cup Finals before the Beermen authored the biggest comeback in a playoff series by winning the next four games, according to chief statistician Fidel Mangonon III.
MAGNOLIA 105 – Sangalang 29, Ramos 15, Barroca 14, dela Rosa 11, Herndon 8, Jalalon 7, Reavis 6, Pascual 5, Lee 4, Melton 3, Simon 3, Brondial 0
SMB 103 – Fajardo 31, Cabagnot 27, Lassiter 21, Santos 19, Ganuelas-Rosser 4, Ross 1, Heruela 0, de Ocampo 0, Pessumal 0, Espinas 0
Quarterscores: 25-33, 47-63, 75-89, 105-103