MANILA, Philippines – By defeating the San Miguel Beermen 85 to 80 on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, the pace-setting Magnolia Hotshots secured an outright playoff berth for the PBA Commissioner’s Cup. Paul Lee overcame early fouls and launched a devastating onslaught in the crucial moments.
Lee was only able to play for 28 minutes because of early foul trouble, but he still put up a strong performance that was highlighted by an eight-point spurt in the final 90 seconds that helped the Hotshots escape a tight matchup with the Beermen.
The Hotshots secured a playoff spot with their eighth victory in nine games after Lee sank back-to-back three-pointers from their 77 to 76 advantage and added the insurance free throws later.
“I just let it fly, and thankfully pumasok, and it gave us the cushion,” said Lee of one of his highlight-reel three-pointers, which helped him finish with 14 points, three rebounds, and two assists to go along with two turnovers and four quick fouls.
The team’s offense was mostly supported by Nick Rakocevic, who finished with 26 points and 28 rebounds. “We shared the ball, so we were able to score from open shots and drop passes,” Lee added.
With 12 points and 14 rebounds, Ian Sangalang had his own double-double, and Mark Barroca added 12 points to help the Hotshots regain the lead in the battle for the top two spots and a twice-to-beat incentive in the quarterfinals.
Converge and Bay Area, both at 8 to 2, are behind them.
With their fifth defeat in their last eight games, San Miguel’s Beermen were dealt a serious blow, dropping to the bottom of the standings.
The Beermen suffered a crushing 36 to 61 rebounding loss against the Hotshots without June Mar Fajardo.
Rakocevic and his teammates pulled down 20 offensive rebounds as opposed to three for SMB, helping the Hotshots thrash the Beermen 22 to 3 on second-chance points.
As Magnolia seized the lead, 65 to 60, moving into the payoff time, it relied on board work.
A double-digit spread was not enjoyed by any team, though, and the game was close the entire time.
Although the Hotshots went on a 10-to-nothing run for a brief period, they were only able to extend their lead to seven points.
With 16 goals and 17 boards, Devon Scott took the lead in the battle for the Beermen (SB)
Scores at the end of the match
Magnolia with 85 points for the win
Individual scores: Rakocevic 26, Lee 14, Sangalang 12, Barroca 12, Jalalon 6, Abueva 5, Wong 2, Dela Rosa 2, Corpuz 2, Ahanmisi 2, Laput 0, Dionisio 0
San Miguel with 80 points
Individual scores: Scott 19, Lassiter 16, Perez 16, Manuel 16, Tautuaa 6, Ross 3, Herndon 2, Brondial 2, Enciso 0, Cruz 0
Scores per quarter
23 to 25, 37 to 37, 65 to 60, and 85 to 80