PAUL Lee did it on both ends of the floor at crunch time as Magnolia pulled off a gripping 79-78 win over Alaska to move a win away from winning the PBA Governors’ Cup championship on Friday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Lee scampered downcourt to prevent Alaska from scoring on a 3-on-1 fastbreak then chased down the offensive rebound after a Romeo Travis miss to hit the game-winning baseline jumper with 1.3 seconds left.
Travis then forced Alaska import Mike Harris to miss on a tough fallaway jumper at the buzzer, enabling Magnolia to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series and move on the cusp of its first league title since 2014.
“Aatakihin ako sa puso,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero, moments after the latest thriller in what has been a fiercely fought finals. “That was a great game. One of the classics siguro in terms of the PBA Finals."
Lee finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Hotshots. He was struggling on 3-of-11 shooting from the floor when he knocked in the baseline jumper that turned out to be the game-winner.
The former Rookie of the Year also stopped a 3-on-1 Alaska fastbreak to set up Ian Sangalang for the three-point play that put the Hotshots ahead, 77-76.
"I want to commend my players for their mental toughness. We were up, nakabalik sila. I have to motivate my players to keep on fighting. I know we are tired physically and mentally but it’s all about heart,” said Victolero.
Harris had 28 points and 20 rebounds and sank two free throws with 11.4 seconds left that gave Alaska back the lead, 78-77, before Lee came to Magnolia's rescue.
Magnolia held a 53-40 lead at the half but failed to score a field goal during Alaska’s 20-2 run in the third quarter, which enabled the Aces to grab the lead, 60-55.
Magnolia 79 – Sangalang 20, Barroca 14, Jalalon 13, Lee 11, Travis 10, Herndon 6, Dela Rosa 4, Reavis 1, Melton 0, Simon 0, Brondial 0.
Alaska 78 – Harris 28, Enciso 13, Racal 13, Pascual 6, Exciminiano 5, Cruz 4, Banchero 3, Teng 2, Casio 2, Manuel 2, Baclao 0, Galliguez 0.
Quarters: 29-28; 53-40; 65-62; 79-78.