By JEREMIAH SEVILLA
Paul Lee took charge late as Magnolia took down Barangay Ginebra in this season’s Manila Clasico, 89-79, and earned a share of the lead in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup on Sunday night, July 25 at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Lee fired 22 points, including the dagger baskets to keep the Kings at bay and eventually lift the Hotshots to the top together with the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters with similar 3-0 slates.
The seasoned guard from Tondo came to Magnolia’s rescue after Ginebra trimmed the latter’s 65-49 lead in the third quarter down to 77-79 behind Stanley Pringle with 3:36 left in the game.
Lee poured six points in an 8-2 spurt to push the Hotshots for good, 87-79, with 1:09 remaining.
Magnolia coach Chito Victolero pointed out their solid defensive scheme which powered their third period outburst.
“We have a goal and we achieved that goal in our defense. We also had a good start in the third quarter,” said Victolero, whose Hotshots limited the Kings to 14 points while scoring 21 of their own in the third frame.
Ian Sangalang tallied 17 points while Calvin Abueva added 15 markers on top of nine rebounds and Mark Barroca also chipped in 15 points in the win.
Meanwhile, Arwind Santos sank the go-ahead jumper with 1.2 seconds left as San Miguel staved off the hard-fighting pesky NorthPort, 88-86, for back-to-back wins.
Veteran forward Santos hit the uncontested game-winner off Marcio Lassiter’s assist at the top of the key, allowing the Beermen to survive the Batang Pier’s furious fightback and improve to 2-1.
Kevin Ferrer missed the potential win-stealing triple from the left corner for NorthPort as time expired.
The Batang Pier clawed its way back from a 65-81 deficit early in the fourth quarter and came knocking at the Beermen’s door on Greg Slaughter’s hook shot over June Mar Fajardo, 85-86, with 47.8 ticks remaining.
NorthPort tied the game at 86-all on Robert Bolick’s free throw with 7.3 seconds left after Santos got teed up for elbowing Sidney Onwubere during a scramble for the loose ball.
The 2013 PBA MVP nevertheless made up for his mistake with his clutch basket to seal the victory for San Miguel.
SAN MIGUEL 88 – Perez 18, Santos 17, Cabagnot 16, Tautuaa 11, Fajardo 8, Lassiter 6, Pessumal 6, Ross 3, Gamalinda 3.
NORTHPORT 86 – Slaughter 23, Bolick 18, Onwubere 12, Balanza 11, Malonzo 10, Taha 9, Rike 1, Ferrer 1, Faundo 0, Elorde 0, Doliguez 0
Quarters: 21-21, 52-45, 79-63, 88-86.
MAGNOLIA 89 – Lee 22, Sangalang 17, Abueva 15, Barroca 15, Corpuz 9, Jalalon 5, , Dela Rosa 4, Reavis 2, Dionisio 0, Pascual 0, Ahanmisi 0
GINEBRA 79 – Pringle 22, Tenorio 13, Standhardinger 13, Thompson 13, J. Aguilar 9, Chan 9, Caperal 0, Dillinger 0, Ayaay 0, Devance 0
Quarters: 22-22, 46-42, 67-56, 89-79.