Magnolia sets up Finals showdown with San Miguel

Magnolia point guard Mark Barroca puts up a shot against Phoenix Super LPG in Game 4 of their 2023-24 PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals series, January 31, 2024 at the Mall of Asia Arena. (PBA Images)

The Magnolia Chicken Timplados Hotshots are back in the PBA finals.

Chito Victolero and his squad emerged victorious against the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters, 89-79, during their Game 4 semifinals clash in the league’s Season 48 Commissioner’s Cup on Wednesday night at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

“We just stayed composed and, at the same time, we went to our strength, which is our defense,” Victolero said on how they avoided yet another collapse in the second half much like what happened in Game 3.

In that bout, after being up by as much as 21, Magnolia faltered in the second half and allowed Phoenix to extend the series to a fourth game.

“We talked about it at halftime. We expected a run from them. But we stayed calm and we weathered the storm. Kailangan lang naming maging composed na nagawa naman namin,” he added.

Veteran point guard Mark Barroca led Magnolia’s attack with 21 points, five assists, and four rebounds, while Tyler Bey had 20 markers, 20 boards, and four dimes.

In Wednesday’s game, the Fuel Masters, who were down by as much as 17 in the first half, actually mounted another fightback in the third canto as they charged a 13-4 run in to start the final 24 minutes of action

This allowed them to get as close as two, 53-51, with still 6:53 remaining, but that was when their comeback was spoiled.

But the Hotshots answered with a 15-to-nothing run which was concluded by a triple by Paul Lee in a span of five minutes, and this momentum was enough for Magnolia to finally fend off the pesky Phoenix squad.

Phoenix tried to jumpstart another run in the fourth to save their season, with a Sean Manganti trey allowing them to get as close as 10, 78-68, but a Bay slam and a Barroca triple eventually closed the door on the Fuel Masters’ hopes.

Jonathan Williams ended his Commissioner’s Cup stint with 17 points, 17 rebounds, five assists, three blocks, and two steals, while RR Garcia tallied 15 markers, 12 of which came from the three-point line.

Magnolia will be facing the San Miguel Beermen in a best-of-seven series in the finals which will start on Friday, February 2, 8 p.m., at the same venue. (ABS-CBN News)

The scores:

Magnolia — 89 – Barroca 21, Bey 20, Sangalang 12, Dionisio 8, Dela Rosa 7, Lee 6, Tratter 6, Jalalon 5, Laput 4, Ahanmisi 0, Reavis 0, Abueva 0.

Phoenix — 79 – Williams 17, Garcia 15, Jazul 11, Manganti 10, Perkins 6, Alejandro 5, Tio 5, Muyang 4, Tuffin 3, Rivero 3, Soyud 0, Mocon 0, Verano 0, Camacho 0.

Quarters: 29-16; 49-38; 70-53; 89-79.

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