Ian Sangalang and Paul Lee delivered in the clutch as Magnolia pulled off an 84-82 escape act over Alaska in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup, Wednesday (July 21) at the Ynares Sports Center in Pasig City.
Staring down an 82-all deadlock in the waning moments of regulation, Lee gravitated a swarm of defenders as he drove hard to the cup before dishing it off to the 6-foot-7 Sangalang, who hoisted a buzzer-beating bank shot that sent the Hotshots to their second win in as many games.
“Sa tagal nilang magkakilala, sa mata pa lang, nagkakausap na,” said Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero.
(Translation: With how long they have known each other, they can already communicate through eye contact.)
The game-winning basket punctuated Sangalang's spirited performance of 26 points, to go along with five rebounds and two blocks, while Lee supplied 16 points and two assists as Magnolia rose to a 2-0 slate for a three-way tie atop the standings with Rain or Shine and Meralco.
"Sa start pa lang, sinabi ko na (From the start, I said) this is not an easy game. We have to be committed to this game because it's hard," Victolero added.
The Hotshots almost collapsed late in the final period after squandering a commanding 80-72 lead to the Aces, who relied on Yousef Taha and Robbie Herndon's scoring exploits to snatch the advantage at 82-80.
Sangalang, however, pulled Magnolia out of the brink of defeat with a game-tying basket with 57 seconds left in the clock before nailing the dagger at the buzzer.
Taha finished with a career-high 20 points to go along with 10 rebounds for Alaska, which fell to a 1-1 card.
Reeling from a devastating loss to Meralco, Robert Bolick and the NorthPort Batang Pier vented their ire on the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters with a 115-79 demolition for a breakthrough win in the All-Filipino Conference.
In his second game back from an ACL injury, Bolick spearheaded Batang Pier's offensive thrust with a near triple-double effort of 20 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds as his side bounced back from a dismal outing against the Bolts where they settled for a franchise-low 63 points on 21 percent shooting from the field.
“Masyadong disappointment ‘yung first game namin...Ang ginawa talaga namin, we fixed one thing – defense. Sabi ko ayusin natin depensa natin,” said NorthPort coach Pido Jarencio.
(Translation: Our first game was really disappointing...So, what we did was, we fixed one thing – defense. I told them that we should work on our defense.)
NorthPort heeded Jarencio's call, stepping up on the defensive end in a bid to clamp up the high-octane offense of Phoenix. As a result, the Fuel Masters were limited to 32-percent shooting from the field.
In turn, the stifling defense opened up the floodgates of scoring for Batang Pier, who produced bucket after bucket on an efficient 50-percent shooting clip. It also led to breakout performances for two NorthPort rookies in Troy Rike and Jamie Malonzo.
Rike, who waxed hot from deep with four consecutive triples in the fourth quarter where Batang Pier held a comfortable double-digit lead, delivered 20 points and eight rebounds, while second overall pick Jamie Malonzo tallied 15 points and eight boards in the morale-boosting win.
Kevin Ferrer also made his presence felt for NorthPort as he nailed the differential hits that thwarted Phoenix's come back attempts in the first half to finish with 20 points, to go along with nine rebounds.
The Fuel Masters, on the other hand, fell to 0-2.
Vic Manuel saw his game-high 26-point production go down the drain, while Matthew Wright managed 15 points on 4-of-15 shooting in the loss.
Ohmer Bautista is a sports journalist who has covered local and international sporting events in the Philippines. The views expressed are his own.
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