MAGNOLIA Hotshots wingman Paul Lee saved his best for last and it was enough to derail the NLEX Road Warriors, 103-100, in the PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday night, October 14, 2020, at the AUF Sports Arena & Cultural Center in Pampanga.
Down by as much as 22 points, the Hotshots crawled their way back into the game behind their full-court pressure defense that befuddled the Road Warriors’ ballhandlers, causing them to commit careless turnovers that Magnolia deftly converted into easy points.
But even with Kevin Alas and JR Quiñahan fouling out and Jericho Cruz hobbling his way out of the game because of an injured ankle, NLEX kept its poise and held a 100-97 lead after a sweet turnaround jumper by Kiefer Ravena and a free-throw by Mike Ayonayon with 40 seconds remaining.
Coming off a timeout, Lee caught the ball at the top of the arc and fired in a three-pointer while getting fouled by NLEX defender Anthony Semerad. Lee then made the bonus free-throw to push the Hotshots in front, 101-100, time down to 32 seconds.
NLEX tried to regain the driver’s seat but Ravena’s midrange jumper fell short and Magnolia guard Mark Barroca shot in two free-throws to raise the Hotshots’ lead to three, 103-100, with just 15 ticks left in the game.
The Road Warriors had one last shot at tying the game but Ravena’s three-point try rattled in and out to give Magnolia the win and a 1-0 win-loss record.
NLEX, on the other hand, suffered its second loss in as many games.
Cagayan de Oro-native Jio Jalalon led Magnolia with 19 points and was a pest on the defensive end where he racked up five steals. Chris Banchero likewise scored 19 markers while Lee finished with 18.
Ravena had 27 points, atoning for his miserable performance in NLEX’s season-opener. However, it was not enough to get the Road Warriors into the win column. (JNP)