Hester sustains Magnolia revival as NLEX folds

Feb 16, 2023

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CHALLENGE. Magnolia’s Jio Jalalon goes for a shot amid three NLEX defenders.


A rejuvenated Magnolia squad rallies against NLEX for a third straight win with new import Antonio Hester after a dismal 0-3 start to the conference

MANILA, Philippines – Magnolia claimed its third straight win at the expense of NLEX, 119-103, in the PBA Governors’ Cup on Thursday, February 16, at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

Antonio Hester – who came as a replacement for Eric McCree after the Hotshots’ dismal 0-3 start – remains undefeated with the squad after pumping in 37 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 assists.

Shaking off an ankle turn he suffered in the third quarter, Jio Jalalon almost recorded a triple-double, tallying 17 markers, collared 9 rebounds, and dished out 12 dimes.

“We’re starting to get our rhythm, and I think the big factor is [Hester],” said Hotshots head coach Chito Victolero after the game.

“Everybody enjoys the game because he’s chummy with his teammates… we enjoy his presence and he also feels the same with us.” 

After a back-and-forth affair in the first half which saw NLEX lead by a solitary point, 50-49, the Road Warriors suddenly found their mark and erected an 11-point lead, 66-55, following a triple by Kris Rosales at the 7:12 mark.

But led by Hester, Jalalon, and forward Aris Dionisio, the Hotshots countered and overtook their competition, 73-71, with 3:29 left in the third period.

Magnolia continued to torch the nets and took an 88-79 lead heading towards the closing chapter.

The floodgates opened for Magnolia’s offense as they led by as many as 21, 108-87, following two foul shots from Hester.

NLEX tried to mount a comeback, but the clock was too short for them to make a dent in the game’s outcome.

Paul Lee added 18 points for Magnolia as their team rose to a 3-3 record.

NLEX, which started off at 4-0 behind import Jonathon Simmons, dropped its second straight contest.

But the problem didn’t end there as NLEX head coach Frankie Lim said veteran forward Sean Anthony is expected to miss about a month of action due to injury.

Anthony was seen at the game wearing a walking boot in his right foot.

“We’re short-staffed. We have many injuries. (Mike) Miranda, (Mike) Nieto, and Sean Anthony,” lamented Lim.

“Tony (Semerad’s) feeling under the weather so we are struggling with our rotation. We got outnumbered in the rebound department,” added Lim, noting their massive 58-26 disadvantage in the board battle.

Simmons’ replacement, Wayne Selden,Jr., fired 25 points and 9 assists to pace NLEX, but they went along with 6 turnovers.

Kris Rosales contributed 19 points off the bench for the Road Warriors.

The Scores

Magnolia 119 – Hester 37, Lee 18, Jalalon 17, Barroca 13, Dionisio 13, Abueva 10, Corpuz 4, Escoto 4, Dela Rosa 3, Ahanmisi 0, Reavis 0, Wong 0, Laput 0.

NLEX 103 – Selden Jr. 25, Ganuelas-Rosser 20, Rosales 19, Trollano 16, Alas 15, Semerad 4, Gabo 2, Pascual 0.

Quarters: 25-29, 49-50, 88-79, 119-103.

– Rappler.com

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