PAUL Lee erupted in a pivotal third quarter as Magnolia eliminated Barangay Ginebra, 85-72, on Wednesday to advance into the semifinals of the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Lee had 13 of his 25 points in the third quarter where the Hotshots outscored the Gin Kings, 28-13, to pull away and cop the win in a do-or-die game for the semifinal spot.
Magnolia led by as many as 22 points but still needed a key basket by Lee, who also drilled triple after Ginebra came to within nine points to regain control of the match, 81-69.
The Hotshots, who came in to the quarterfinals as the sixth seed, won over the Gin Kings, who were the third ranked team in the playoffs but dropped the final two games of the best-of-three series.
Magnolia dropped Game One, 86-75, but tied the series at one game apiece with a 106-77 victory which the Hotshots replicated in the rubber match to arrange a semifinal showdown against Rain or Shine.
“Sabi ko sa mga players, if we give our 100 percent effort, and the energy is there, we have a good chance,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero. “We did it starting Game Three at nadala namin sa Game Three ngayon.”
Mark Barroca had 13 points, while Aldrech Ramos added 11 points and hit three of his six three-point attempts.
Jeff Chan had 17 points and led a Ginebra comeback bid in the fourth but it fell flat following a crucial triple by Lee, his fifth in the match, with 2:41 left in the ballgame.
The loss also spoiled Scottie Thompson’s career night on the boards after he grabbed 19 rebounds in Game Three.
Magnolia 85 – Lee 25, Barroca 13, Ramos 11, Sangalang 10, Reavis 6, Jalalon 6, Brondial 5, Dela Rosa 4, Melton 3, Herndon 2.
Ginebra 72 – Chan 17, J. Aguilar 16, Devance 12, Slaughter 9, Mercado 8, Tenorio 5, Thompson 3, Dela Cruz 2, Ferrer 0.
Quarters: 20-23; 42-37; 70-50; 85-72.