Playoffs still in play as fourth-quarter rally pushes Magnolia past NorthPort

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Magnolia completed a furious second-half turnaround with a decisive fourth quarter finish against NorthPort, 103-90, in the PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday at the Araneta Colisuem.

Trailing by as much as 10 for most of the third frame, the Hotshots shut down the Batang Pier offense and outscored them by 27-8 in the payoff period to stay in the running for one of the lower quarterfinal seats.

A triple by Paul Lee kicked-start a quick 8-0 run that turned a six-point deficit entering the final frame into an 85-82 lead for the Hotshots. Magnolia stayed aggressive on both ends of the floor the rest of the way and were able to separate themselves comforatably from NorthPort with about 3:15 left in the game after an Ian Sangalang finish at the rim gave them a 97-90 advantage.

Justin Melton later put the nail in the coffin by drilling a booming trey that pushed the lead to 10.

“It’s all about our defense in the second half. Sa locker room, I told them if we don’t play D in the second, we will lose this game,” head coach Chito Victolero said.

“I’m very happy. Na-limit naming sila sa 31 pts sa 2nd half. Na-limit din naming si Stanley (Pringle, Mo (Tautaa) tsaka si (Jonathan) Grey sa second half.”

Lee finished with 24 points and knocked down six shots from beyond the arc in the win. He also recorded four rebounds and three assists as Magnolia improved to 4-5 in the standings.

Paul Lee (Photo from the PBA Media Group)

Sangalang turned in another impressive line after putting up 20 points, four rebounds and a block, while Rodney Brondial added 14 off the bench.

Sean Anthony was impressive once more for the Batang Pier after tallying 22 points and eight rebounds, although he did have six turnovers for the night. Mo Tautuaa, on the other hand, saw a monster double-double (19 points, 16 rebounds) go down the drain as NorthPort slipped to their sixth straight loss.

NorthPort’s eight-point output during that fourth-period drought was their worst scoring output in any quarter in franchise history.

That came after a 59-point first half performance, which gave them a six-point lead over Magnolia after two quarters of play.

Magnolia has one more shot at boosting their playoff hopes when they take on Blackwater on Friday, March 22, at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.

THE SCORES

MAGNOLIA (103) – Lee 24, Sangalang 20, Brondial 14, Melton 11, Jalalon 11, Barroca 11, Reavis 5, dela Rosa 5, Herndon 2, Pascual 0.

NORTHPORT (90) – Anthony 22, Tautuaa 19, Pringle 15, Grey 14, Lanete 8, Guinto 4, Bolick 3, Elorde 3, Taha 2, Sollano 0, Gabayni 0.

Quarterscores: 33-25, 53-59, 76-82, 103-90.

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