MAGNOLIA formally sealed a marquee quarterfinal playoff with longtime rival Barangay Ginebra after defeating NLEX, 102-74, on Wednesday in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Hotshots responded to the Road Warriors’ 7-0 start with a 14-0 blast of their own and never looked back to claim the sixth seed thanks to a third straight win - and sixth in 11 games overall.
By avoiding a twice-to-beat disadvantage in the quarterfinal playoffs, Magnolia sealed a much-awaited showdown with third-ranked Ginebra in a best-of-three series that should kick off the playoffs in earnest.
Paul Lee scored 10 of his 26 points in that furious first-quarter run while making six of his nine three-point attempts to lead the Hotshots.
“We achieved our goal which is to get the sixth spot,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero. “Malaking factor ‘yung depensa namin. The goal was to limit NLEX to 90 points. If they scored 100 plus points, malamang panalo sila. ‘Yun ang defensive plan namin na ma-limit namin ‘yung scoring ng NLEX.”
NLEX’s loss kept Alaska in the running for the last spot in the Final Eight.
With NLEX and Alaska now tied at 4-7 (win-loss), their fate now hinge on the day's other match between NorthPort (4-6) and Ginebra.
NorthPort can clinch the No. 7 spot - and leave NLEX and Alaska in a playoff for the eighth spot - with a win over Ginebra. A loss will leave the Batang Pier and the Aces in a playoff for the eighth seed.
Aldrech Ramos had 15 points and buried four of his eight three-point attempts, while Mark Barroca scored 14 points for Magnolia, which led by as many as 31 points.
NLEX struggled on offense with Bong Galanza ending up as the lone double- digit scorer for the Road Warriors with 10 points.
Game One of the quarterfinal playoff between Magnolia and Ginebra will be on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Magnolia 102 – Lee 26, Ramos 15, Barroca 14, Sangalang 10, Jalalon 8, Herndon 6, Melton 5, Simon 5, Brondial 5, Reavis 2, Gamalinda 2, Dela Rosa 2, Pascual 2, Calisaan 0, Abundo 0.
NLEX 74 – Galanza 10, Ighalo 9, Tallo 8, Quinahan 8, Erram 7, Rios 6, Paniamogan 6, Varilla 6, Magat 6, Soyud 4, Baguio 2, Lao 2, Tiongson 0, Taulava 0, Paredes 0.
Quarters: 20-16; 46-30; 77-54; 102-74.