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    PBA yearender: Magnolia's strong elims finish still leads to early bubble exit

    Dec 28, 2020

    A WIN streak during the eliminations at times leads to a deep run for a PBA title. But this was unlike any other conference. And even with Magnolia’s relatively remarkable performance inside the bubble, their efforts to return to the finals came up short.

    Here’s a review of 2020 for the Hotshots.

    PJ Simon retires

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    The 40-year-old Simon formally announced his retirement last September shortly after he was not included in the bubble roster of the Hotshots. The decision ends the 16-year PBA career of Simon, who transformed from being an unsigned fifth-round pick in 2001 to one of the top stars in the history of the Purefoods franchise. The Hotshots plan to retire his jersey number 8 next year.

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    Longest winning streak in bubble

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    After a slow start in the bubble, Magnolia racked up six consecutive victories on its way to another quarterfinal appearance in the 2020 Philippine Cup. The winning streak began with a 102-92 win over Barangay Ginebra last October 25 in the ‘Bubble Clasico’ with new player Jackson Corpuz leading the way with 20 points. The Hotshots then went on a tear, going unbeaten for the rest of the elimination round games in November to finish with a 7-4 win-loss record.

    Mighty comeback

    One of the most memorable games in the PBA bubble came last October 14 when Magnolia overcame a 22-point deficit to beat NLEX, 103-100. Paul Lee led the attack for the Hotshots with 18 points including a dagger four-point play over Anthony Semerad, completing the comeback from a 70-48 deficit.

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    Bench mob

    With the absence of fans in the bubble, Magnolia’s second stringers led by Alvin Abundo devised an idea by cheering on their teammates by doing a wave following every made free throw. The ploy incidentally began against Barangay Ginebra and his teammates and even coaches joined in on the fun when the wins kept coming.

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    Win streak ends with bubble exit

    Despite their excellent performance in the bubble, Magnolia suffered an unceremonious exit when it fell to Phoenix Super LPG in the quarterfinals. Even with a 7-4 win-loss record, Magnolia was slotted at the No. 7 spot due to an inferior quotient with five teams toting similar marks. The breaks didn’t go Magnolia’s way with Matthew Wright drilling a running three-pointer with the shotclock winding down to essay an 89-88 win. With the loss, the Hotshots missed out on the finals after finishing second to San Miguel in two previous Philippine Cups.

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