Magnolia Hotshots pulled off a shocker in the opener of the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup Finale, rising from the depth of a 20-point deficit to jolt San Miguel Beer, 105-103, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last night.
The Hotshots hit a good rhythm at the start of the fourth quarter and sustained the momentum to the finish to steal Game One of the best-of-seven series.
Magnolia also enjoyed a big break on a ref's call in the closing seconds, helping the Hotshots through for the crucial head start in the race-to-four-games title playoff.
"Credit to the players, down by 20 but they didn't give up. That's the character na nabuo siguro namin from previous playoffs," said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero.
"And I kept insisting we wanted a grind-out game. They (the Beermen) exploded for 63 points in the first half, and it was not our game. I told the guys we would need to limit them to 20 per quarter in the second half, and were able to do it on team effort," Victolero also said. "Hopefully, we can sustain it in the next game."
Game 2 is at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow over at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Ian Sangalang held his own against June Mar Fajardo and made the biggest buckets at endgame before Rafi Reavis delivered the game-winning defensive stoppage in the dying seconds.
Following two missed free throws by Jio Jalalon, the Beermen found a chance to force overtime in the last 2.2 seconds but they were foiled by Reavis.
The gangling Magnolia center first deflected an inside pass to Fajardo, then blocked a game-tying top-of-the-key attempt by Santos.
Sangalang scored 29 points, including Magnolia's last four points, the last two -- from the line - shattering the 103-all deadlock.
"We will not give up no matter what. That delivered us to victory ," said Sangalang on their great effort putting to naught Fajardo's hulking double-double job with 31 points and 18 rebounds.
Sangalang and his teammates truly worked hard as a team to overcome the 104-point production of the SMB super starting cast of Fajardo, Santos, Marcio Lassiter, Alex Cabagnot and Matt Ganuelas-Rosser.
SMB coach Leo Austria playing his starters extended minutes seemed to backfire in the end.
With a steady 53.8-percent shooting, the Beermen took the half at 63-47.
San Miguel enjoyed an even more remarkable shooting with its super starters.
Fajardo, Cabagnot, Santos, Lassiter and Ganuelas-Rosser scored all but one of SMB's 63-point first-half output on 21-of-30 clip (70 percent).
Santos, Cabagnot and Lassiter combined for 7-of-17 three-pointers in the opening half, the last by Lassiter at the buzzer.*pba.com
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