Magnolia, SMB notch vital wins

The Philippine Star
Magnolia, SMB notch vital wins
Calvin Abueva
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Calvin Abueva drilled in the last-gasp winner as Magnolia overcame NorthPort in a wild finish, 90-89, to book a quarterfinal seat in the 46th PBA Philippine Cup in Bacolor, Pampanga yesterday.

Abueva wove his magic in the shaded lane in the last 2.6 seconds to give the Hotshots the final say in a thrilling endgame highlighted by six lead changes, unexpected booboos, and unlikely misses.

The third-running Hotshots picked up their seventh victory against three losses and kept themselves in the mix for the coveted No. 2 seeding and twice-to-beat advantage.

“That was our goal for today,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero, who drew 26 points and 10 rebounds from Ian Sangalang and 15 markers from Abueva.

“We talked about what’s at stake in this game. We knew this was our chance to go to the quarterfinals and get a chance for the No. 2 so talagang pinaghandaan namin at chinallenge ang sarili to get this W.”

TNT and Magnolia were joined in the Last-8 by idle teams Meralco (6-2) and Rain or Shine (6-4) and later San Miguel Beer (6-3), which punched a ticket with a 110-80 romp over Phoenix.

CJ Perez scattered 24 points while June Mar Fajardo posted 18-11 as SMB got the job done with Terrence Romeo sitting out the final half due to Achilles tendon issues.

Meanwhile, Alaska returned from a two-week layoff with a huge 89-75 victory over Ginebra to improve to 3-4. The beleaguered Gin Kings dropped to 4-6.

“We’re determined to bounce back (from the loss to ROS) and credit to CJ and the rest of the crew for going all-out. They knew the importance of this game as far as our quarterfinals bid is concerned,” said SMB coach Leo Austria.

The Fuel Masters finished the elims with a 4-7 slate.

and would now hope it would be enough to gain at least a playoff for the Magic 8.

It was a challenge indeed.

Magnolia failed to pad on its 88-87 cushion as Paul Lee missed a crucial technical freethrow off a miscue by Sean Anthony, who sued for time not realizing NorthPort already ran out of timeout.

Kevin Ferrer then scored the go-ahead basket while drawing a foul from Sangalang. Ferrer flubbed his charity and Magnolia won possession after an out-of-bounds play.

Abueva, working off Rome dela Rosa’s inbounds pass, closed it out for a relieved Magnolia.

“That play was designed for Calvin. Kung wala, next option si Paul. Good thing, na-execute. Thanks also to Rome na malaki ang puso to pass it to Calvin,” said Victolero.

The Batang Pier reeled to back-to-back losses and fell to eighth at 4-5.

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