Barroca, Melton pick up cudgels after Lee exit as Magnolia turns back TNT
Mark Barroca steadies the Magnolia ship after Paul Lee's injuy. Marlo Cueto

MAGNOLIA strengthened its reputation as San Miguel Beer’s toughest challenger in the all-Filipino conference as it turned back TNT KaTropa, 91-83, to sustain its momentum in the PBA Philippine Cup on Saturday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

In a battle between the two best defensive teams in the tournament so far, the Hotshots’ version proved to be more efficient as it translated into easy and scattered offensive production to hold off the Texters.

Mark Barroca and Justin Melton showed the way when Paul Lee had to leave early in the third quarter as the Hotshots stretched their win streak to four games and improved to 5-1 to stay on the coattails of unbeaten defending champion SMB.

The second-running Hotshots also snapped the Texters’ two-game winning run as their victims fell to an even 3-3 win-loss card.

“It’s about our discipline on defense. We did a good job on Castro and the rest,” Magnolia coach Chito Victolero said. “Talagang hindi kami nagpa-outwork sa TNT.”

The Hotshots held Jayson Castro to just 14 points on a paltry 5-of-16 shooting and the entire Texters squad to just 38.1 percent from the field after forcing them to make just 32 of their 84 shots.

It was a team effort on offense as well.

Barroca put up 20 points, eight boards, five assists, two steals, and one block in 33  minutes off the bench, scoring on a midrange jumper off a Troy Rosario goaltending violation that proved to be the dagger after the Texters came closest at 87-83.

Melton added 14 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, and two steals in 23 minutes off the bench, while Ian Sangalang and Marc Pingris chipped in 13 points apiece.

Mo Tautuaa led the Texters with 16 points and five rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench in a losing cause.

The scores:

MAGNOLIA 91 – Barroca 20, Melton 14, Pingris 13, Sangalang 13, Jalalon 8, Ramos 7, Lee 5, Reavis 5, Simon 3, dela Rosa 3, Herndon 0, Brondial 0

TNT 83 – Tautuaa 16, Rosario 15, Castro 14, Pogoy 11, Torres 7, Williams 7, Semerad 6, Reyes 5, Garcia 2, Carey 0

Quarterscores: 26-20, 47-45, 74-62, 91-83

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