by Jonas Terrado
ANTIPOLO CITY – Magnolia’s long and arduous journey toward resurrection is finally complete.
The Hotshots returned to a familiar territory after a four-year wait by finishing off the Alaska Aces with a 102-86 victory to cap off a 12-month PBA season as champions of the Governors’ Cup at the Ynares Center here.
A 12-0 start anchored by determined import Romeo Travis, Ian Sangalang, Mark Barroca, Paul Lee and Jio Jalalon set the tone for a contest that looked more like a formal coronation for the Chito Victolero-coached Hotshots than a bruising or heartstopping affair that highlighted the series.
Travis won his first PBA championship at the expense of his former team after posting 32 points and 17 rebounds while Barroca, one of the holdovers of the franchise’s 2014 Grand Slam season, was adjudged the PBA Press Corps-Honda Finals Most Valuable Player after a series average of 11.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.8 steals.
Sangalang had 16 points Jio Jalalon produced and Game 5 hero Lee added 11 points as Magnolia broke its tie with Alaska for the league’s second winningest ballclub with its 14th championship.
The clincher also marked the first time in the 43-year history of the pro loop that all three teams under San Miguel Corporation won a championship in a single season.
San Miguel Beer claimed its fourth straight Philippine Cup last April while Barangay Ginebra ruled the Commissioner’s Cup in August during the season that endured lengthy breaks since the Dec. 2017 opener to make way for the national team’s campaign in the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers.
It was Magnolia’s first title since the 2014 Governors’ Cup, when the team then known as San Mig Super Coffee completed the PBA’s fourth triple crown under coach Tim Cone, James Yap and current holdovers Barroca, Marc Pingris, Sangalang and Rafi Reavis.
Getting back to the winner’s podium was a difficult road for the Purefoods franchise.
Cone’s eventual departure for Manila Clasico rival Ginebra led to a downturn in the 2015-16 season, which eventually led to the hiring of Victolero, who before last night had never won a championship as a coach.
MAGNOLIA 102 – Travis 32, Sangalang 16, Lee 16, Barroca 13, Jalalon 11, Dela Rosa 7, Herndon 5, Brondial 2, Melton 0, Reavis 0.
ALASKA 86 – Harris 26, Banchero 20, Teng 14, Enciso 9, Cruz 6, Racal 5, Baclao 4, Thoss 2, Pascual 0, Casio 0, Galliguez 0, Magat 0.
Quarters: 32-18; 60-42; 80-63; 102-86.