Hotshots in driver’s seat

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star
Hotshots in driver�s seat
Magnolia import Tyler Bey puts up a one-hander against Phoenix defender Javee Mocon last night.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Magnolia found it hard to get its offensive groove against tough-as-nails Phoenix. So the Hotshots turned to their good old defensive playbook to get the job done.

Showing more poise in the endgame, the Hotshots grinded out an 82-79 win over the Fuel Masters to seize a 1-0 head start in their PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinal duel yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Tyler Bey delivered a clutch three-point play, grabbed a key defensive rebound and made a split that put Magnolia in the driver’s seat, 82-79, with 3.8 seconds left.

The Hotshots then put up a tough stand on Phoenix’ final offensive, forcing RJ Jazul to give it up to Jason Perkins, who eventually hit the front rim as he attempted to tie it at the buzzer.

“It was really our plan to limit the score under 90. We’ve been doing that for the whole conference and we want to continue with that. Hopefully, buong series ganoon so we’ll have a good chance of winning the game,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero.

“We had a hard time scoring because they disrupted our offense. Coach Jamike (Jarin of Phoenix) did a good job in that aspect. Good thing, we’re focused, solid and locked in on our defense. Siguro, ‘yung breaks of the game, napunta sa amin because of our hustle and aggressiveness in the endgame.”

Far from his usual explosive self, Bey finished with 23 points, 10 rebounds and two assists to lead Magnolia, which now guns for a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series tomorrow.

Leading the backup were Paul Lee, who shot 11, and Mark Barroca, who had 10, including six in the fourth that gave the Hotshots a 78-73 cushion.

Perkins banged in 25 to show the way for the Fuel Masters. Import Johnathan Williams III scored only 11 against the Magnolia defense but had 18 rebounds.

The Fuel Masters earlier threatened to blow the Hotshots away in the third as they seized a 55-46 tear. But the more experienced Hotshots unleashed a 15-5 blast to wrest the upperhand, 61-60, going to the last 12 minutes.

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