Hotshots go back to back

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star
Hotshots go back to back
Magnolia center Ian Sangalang defies the defense of Phoenix’ Jason Perkins.

Magnolia defense downs Phoenix

MANILA, Philippines — While waiting for the presscon after Magnolia’s 107-93 win over Phoenix in yesterday’s PBA Philippine Cup, coach Chito Victolero did some mental computation.

“Kinekwenta ko score nila (Phoenix). Thirty-nine points noong second quarter, 36 nung second half,” Victolero shared on the heels of Magnolia’s first back-to-back wins for 3-2 overall at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.

That’s essentially the story of the game.

The Fuel Masters got away with 39 markers on the strength of eight booming three-pointers against Magnolia’s 19 in the second period, which resulted in Victolero’s squad losing its early 12-point lead and Phoenix surging to a 57-47 tear.

This turnaround quarter was the talking point at the Magnolia locker room, spurring the Hotshots to action after restart. Clamping down on defense, a refocused Magnolia outplayed Phoenix in the third, 32-20, to wrest the upperhand, 79-77, then broke away for good with a 28-16 closeout.

“We had a serious talk at half-time. We had one of our worst defensive quarters in the second quarter. We were outhustled and outworked there,” said Victolero.

“Boss Al (San Miguel Corp. sports director Alfrancis Chua) noted that Phoenix shot almost 50 percent on three-point shots in that quarter (10-of-21 for 47 percent). We put emphasis on defending the perimeter, especially the three-point shots, and we did a very good job on that in the second half.”

Phoenix (2-5) made just four more triples the rest of the way.

At the forefront of the Hotshots’ assault was Mark Barroca, who produced a career-high-tying 27 points highlighted by four treys, including 12 in the last 24 minutes.

Later, rookie Ralph Cu punched in 24-10-9 statsline to power Barangay Ginebra past NorthPort, 95-88. The Gin Kings climbed to 5-3 for third while the Batang Pier fell to 4-3.

Cu highlighted his near triple double heroics with a clutch trey to kick off a 10-3 closing run.

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