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Sports

Hotshots jack up stocks at 2nd

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star
Hotshots jack up stocks at 2nd
Magnolia import Nick Rakocevic attacks the defense of Meralco counterpart KJ McDaniels at the post.
Russell Palma

MANILA, Philippines — Magnolia amped up its drive for the coveted twice-to-beat incentive in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals after depowering Meralco, 108-96, last night at the PhilSports Arena.

The Hotshots unleashed a searing third-quarter bombardment to lay the foundation to their ninth victory in 11 matches and get a stronger hold of second spot behind top seed-assured Bay Area (10-2).

With more breathing room versus Converge (8-3) and No. 4 Ginebra (8-3) now, the Magnolia cagers can clinch the Top 2 standing and playoffs bonus by hurdling Rain or Shine on Friday.

“Our destiny is in our hands. We handle our business, then we’ll be blessed with the opportunity to get twice-to-beat,” said assistant coach Jason Webb.

“We handled Game 1 (Meralco) today and on Friday, we play Rain or Shine. We handle that one then we get a bit of an advantage for the quarterfinals. But it’s one thing to have that opportunity, it’s another thing to take care of business the way these boys handled it tonight (last night).”

Magnolia snapped the three-match run of the quarters-chasing Bolts, stranding their victims to ninth going to the windup of the preliminaries next week.

After squandering a 10-point lead in the second and trailing by five at the break, the Hotshots detonated a 47-23 bomb to pull away and practically take the fight out of the Bolts.

Those 47 markers were the most in a quarter since Phoenix netted 49 in the fourth quarter of a 124-117 loss to TNT in the 2016 Governors’ Cup.

Paul Lee dropped 11 of his 27 in that game-changing period, where Magnolia scored 17 points off Meralco’s seven turnovers and made 20 transition points.

Later, Ginebra used a strong finishing kick to prevail over NorthPort, 122-105, and draw level with the FiberXers at No. 3. Their three-game streak snapped, the Batang Pier settled for a closing 6-6 card and stayed at sixth.

PBA COMMISSIONER’S CUP

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