Magnolia defeats Meralco in PBA semifinal

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MANILA, Philippines – Magnolia defeated Meralco, 88-79, in Game 1 of their seven-game semifinals in the PBA Philippine Cup Sunday 2021 at DHVSU Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.

The Hotshots pulled away late in the fourth with Calvin Abueva punctuated a 13-3 run with a breakaway jam for an 82-72 lead with 2:45 left in the spirited play.

Jio Jalalon then pushed Magnolia’s lead to 14, 88-74, with a driving layup effectively putting an end to any hopes of the Bolts comeback with 1:43 left.

The game was not without incident, however, as Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero was called with a technical foul, as was Meralco’s own bench, after a verbal altercation with Raymond Almazan.

Another incident also occurred in the final five seconds when Allein Maliksi came in with the Magnolia bench, but there was no whistle.

“It was a very difficult and exhausting game and in terms of our focus we talked about the whole 48 minutes of play, we learned a lot from our last game where we only played 47 minutes,” said Hotshots head coach Chito Victolero.

The Hotshots lost a 13-point lead in the final two minutes in their elimination round against the Bolts, with Meralco taking an unlikely 95-94 win over Chris Newsome’s game-winning layup.

“Even if we are up 12, we put pressure on the game because we know they can come back.”

Ian Sangalang led the Hotshots with 18 points and eight rebounds, while Paul Lee added 17 points.

Rafi Reavis almost finished with a double-double with nine points and 10 boards for Magnolia.

Bong Quinto had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Bolts.

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