By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
THE Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok scored an early series lead over the Rain or Shine Elastopainters in their best-of-three Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup quarterfinal matchup by taking Game One, 81-70, on Sunday at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Magnolia outgunned Rain or Shine in the third quarter to create some distance, which it did not relinquish the rest of the way to come within one victory away from barging into the next round of the ongoing Philippine Basketball Association tournament.
Paul Lee and Ian Sangalang paced the Hotshots in the victory, finishing with 20 and 19 points, respectively, with the latter also collecting 13 boards.
It was a game of runs in the first two quarters with the two teams fighting to a 42-37 count, and the Elastopainters on top, by the half time break.
In the third quarter, Magnolia cranked its play up on both ends of the court to seize control of the contest.
The Hotshots limited the Elastopainters to just eight points while they scored 23 in the period, 13 points coming from the combined efforts of Messrs. Sangalang and Lee, to turn things around and lead, 60-50, heading into the final quarter.
Rain or Shine regained some footing to begin the fourth quarter.
Led by rookie Leonard Santillan, the Elastopainters narrowed the gap to just four points, 64-60, by the 9:08 mark.
But Magnolia would exert itself anew to build further distance, 73-64, in the next five minutes.
From there, the Hotshots would never be threatened as they went on to close out things.
Rome Dela Rosa and Jio Jalalon scored 10 points apiece for Magnolia while do-it-all forward Calvin Abueva had eight points and 13 rebounds.
For Rain or Shine, it was Mr. Santillan who top-scored with 17 points on top of grabbing 12 rebounds. Rey Nambatac and Javee Mocon, meanwhile, had 16 and 11 points, respectively.
“It was an important win for us. In any series, getting Game One is important because it gives you momentum,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero following their victory in the series opener.
“We really prepared for this game. It was a physical and defensive battle and we were ready for that. We ground it out with Rain or Shine and we’re glad we got the win,” he added.
Magnolia has a chance to close things out in Game Two set for later this week.