Michael Miranda of NLEX tries to shake off the sticky defense of Ian Sangalang of Magnolia in Game 5 of their best-of-seven semifinal series last night at the Ynares Sports Center in Pasig. Jun Mendoza

Hotshots overrun Warriors, lead 3-2
Nelson Beltran (The Philippine Star) - March 19, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Magnolia slowly pulled away from a tough, intense battle in the fourth quarter and zeroed in on a first finals berth in 10 conferences with an 87-78 drubbing of NLEX in Game Five of their PBA Philippine Cup Final Four matchup at the Ynares Sports Center  last night.

Mark Barroca, PJ Simon, Ian Sangalang, Aldrech Ramos and Rome dela Rosa worked on their fourth-quarter breakaway, pouncing on NLEX’s sudden breakdown for the pivotal 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven series.

The Hotshots try to close out the series in Game Six over at the Smart Araneta Coliseum tomorrow. A deciding Game Seven, if necessary, is on Thursday also at the Big Dome.

“No reason to celebrate yet. We’ve just gained a little edge in the series, but we still have to keep our aggressiveness, intensity and focus to win it,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero.

“We’re in the same situation last year, with a 3-2 lead over Ginebra, but we came up short. I have to remind our team,” Victolero also said.

Barroca, Ramos, Sangalang and Paul Lee churned out double-digit outputs and drew crucial help from their teammates as they overran the NLEX squad that conked out with a 6-of-22 shooting in the payoff period.

A bad break hit NLEX right at the get-go as Kevin Alas injured his right knee just 40 seconds into the game. He’s helped to their dugout and was already in civvies when he returned to their bench.

Still, the Road Warriors put up a tough stand, engaging the Hotshots in a gut-wrenching battle in the first three quarters marked by 19 lead changes and four deadlocks.

But then the Hotshots sizzled with a crucial 11-2 run to start the fourth quarter and led by as many as 18 at 84-66 before sealing the win that sent them to the threshold of a final confrontation with San Miguel Beer.

“Credit to Mark Barroca who played great on both ends. Aldrech Ramos also stepped up, and we had guys like Kyle Pascual, Bam Gamalinda, Robert Herndon putting in their share. It’s a team effort that we needed to cover for the energy and leadership that we’re missing on the sidelining of Marc Pingris,” said Victolero.

Barroca finished with 18 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block against one turnover while Lee and Ramos had 15 points apiece.

Kiefer Ravena, Alex Mallari and Raul Soyud carried the offensive load for the Road Warriors, coming away with 21, 13 and 11 points, respectively, in the game marred by a number of flagrant and technical fouls.

The Warriors were still trying to stop the Hotshots breakaway when the Magnolia coach and NLEX center JR Quiñahan were whistled a double technical for hurling invectives at each other.

The scores:

Magnolia 87 — Barroca 18, Lee 15, Ramos 15, Sangalang 12, Simon 7, Dela Rosa 6, Pascual 4, Reavis 4, Brondial 2, Gamalinda 2, Jalalon 2, Herndon 0, Mendoza 0

NLEX 78 — Ravena 21, Mallari 13, Soyud 11, Fonacier 9, Miranda 8, Quiñahan 8, Rios 3, Taulava 2, Tiongson 2, Baguio 1, Alas 0

Quarterscores: 20-20, 37-36, 59-58, 87-78

BASKETBALL MAGNOLIA HOTSHOTS NLEX ROAD WARRIORS PBA PHILIPPINE CUP YNARES SPORTS CENTER
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