by Jonas Terrado
Game Sunday (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
6:30 p.m. — Phoenix Pulse vs San Miguel
(San Miguel leads series 2-0)
Game Monday (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
7 p.m. — Magnolia vs Rain or Shine
(Rain or Shine leads series 2-1)
Ian Sangalang made big baskets down the stretch as Magnolia prevailed 85-74 to cut Rain or Shine’s lead to 2-1 in the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Sangalang scored 10 of his 16 points in the final six minutes to help the Hotshots prevented the Elasto Painters from gaining a commanding 3-0 lead going into the Lenten break.
His medium-range jumpers and one-handed shots in the post enabled Magnolia to gain the upper hand after the game’s final deadlock at 69-all.
Paul Lee was also instrumental with 16 points while Mark Barroca and Jio Jalalon combined for 14 points while grabbing 10 rebounds apiece to play key roles in Magnolia’s return to its old ways.
“We were able to bring back our way of playing Magnolia Hotshots basketball which is to play pesky defense and be more aggressive on both sides,” said coach Chito Victolero.
The break is something Victolero and the Hotshots are embracing after playing seven games in the last 14 days that began with a hard-fought three-game quarterfinal conquest of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
Magnolia can only hope that it can get the needed advantage with fresh legs ahead of Monday’s fourth game at the Big Dome.
Rain or Shine fell short of putting a stranglehold on the best-of-seven series despite leading 42-35 at the half and 63-57 entering the final canto.
Rookie Javee Mocon scored 18 points but Rain or Shine’s offense sputtered after his three-point play narrowed Magnolia’s lead to 76-74 with barely four minutes to go.
Sangalang hit six straight points, ending on a lefty hook off Beau Belga for 82-74, 51 ticks left.
Meanwhile, the PBA fined San Miguel Beer’s Christian Standhardinger P20,000 for kicking Phoenix Pulse’s Calvin Abueva during a tense-filled Game 2 last Monday.
Abueva was also penalized P15,000 for flashing his dirty finger multiple times during the latter part of the testy affair won by the Beermen, 92-82, to take a 2-0 lead in the series.