Rain or Shine center Beau Belga takes a left-handed layup in an early action in the ROS-Magnolia knockout duel last night at the MOA Arena.
Jun Mendoza
Gutsy Hotshots arrange rematch with Beermen
Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - April 29, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Again, again: It’s Magnolia challenging reigning champ San Miguel Beer for the PBA Philippine Cup crown.

After a failed try last year, the Hotshots set themselves up for a second crack at the Beermen’s throne after wrapping up their hard-fought semifinal duel with the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters by scoring a dramatic come-from-behind 63-60 overtime caper in last night’s deciding Game Seven at the MOA Arena.

Skipper Rafi Reavis stood tall in the do-or-die, coming through with clutch rebounds and big plays both on offense and defense as the no-quit Hotshots wiped out a 17-point deficit en route to the clinching win and a deserved spot in the best-of-seven championship against the five-peat-seeking Beermen.

“We found ways to win,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero, whose wards had to dig deep after trailing  22-39 early in the third.

“We were down by 17 and I don’t know how we came back. It’s all God’s will and I’m thankful to my players for showing grit, resilience, energy and effort. They simply didn’t give up,” he added after emerging victorious in the all-time lowest scoring game in PBA playoffs history.

Magnolia crept to within 37-44 to start the fourth then finally took the driver’s seat, 55-52, after a searing run led by Ian Sangalang in regulation before Rey Nambatac fired the equalizer from beyond the arc. Rain or Shine had one more chance to ice it in the last 6.4 seconds but Reavis foiled James Yap’s attempt at the game-winner, forcing the extension.

Reavis gave the Hotshots a 61-58 cushion on a putback off Paul Lee’s miss at the 1:15 mark of extra time and later grabbed two key defensive rebounds going with a big free throw that made it 62-60 with 9.3 ticks left in OT. Reavis also helped out in forcing Yap to a missed lay-up in RoS’s last offensive thrust.

“This is a testament to the team’s never-give-up attitude. I love how they fight against adversity all conference long. Coming off a championship (2018 Governor’s Cup), we started at 0-3, then 1-4, and we needed to win five of our next six games to go to the middle of the pack and battled our way from there. Then in the quarters, we started 0-1 but kept fighting and in this semis series, we started 0-2 but found ways to win,” said Victolero.

Reavis became the oldest player to grab 20 rebounds in a Game Seven, a statline he laced with eight points and three blocks.

The scores:

Magnolia 63 – Sangalang 11, Lee 11, Ramos 9, Reavis 8, Barroca 7, Dela Rosa 6, Brondial 5, Jalalon 3, Melton 3, Herndon 0.

Rain or Shine 60 – Yap 14, Norwood 11, Ponferada 9, Belga 7, Ahanmisi 7, Nambatac 5, Mocon 3, Borboran 2, Rosales 2, Torres 0, Daquioag 0.

Quarterscores: 14-7, 21-27, 37-44, 55-55, 63-60

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