ANTIPOLO - All agreeing to shift back into playoff mode, the Magnolia Pambansang Manok Hotshots didn't go wrong, reasserting their mastery of the Alaska Milk Aces, 103-86, in a Petron Blaze Saturday showdown in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Ynares Sports Center here.
Despite the win, the Hotshots still have a lot of catching up to do. At 2-4, Magnolia just caught up with NorthPort at ninth place, a full-game behind eighth-running Meralco (3-5).
Ian Sangalang, Paul Lee and Mark Barroca assumed their roles as the team's lead guys, each scoring at least 19 points as the Hotshots gained some relief in nailing a second win against four losses.
The Hotshots imposed themselves on the injury-hit Aces from the second quarter onwards, and went on to hand Alaska a third loss against the same number of wins.
"Pinag-usapan na namin to consider all our remaining games as do-or-die matches. It's practically playoffs already for us, and fortunately we got this one," said Sangalang, standing out with game-highs of 24 points, 14 rebounds and six assists.
"Wala ng pagbabago sa mindset namin. But we'll take it one game at a time. Our focus now shifts to our next game (against Columbian Dyip Wednesday over at the Smart Araneta Coliseum)," Sangalang also said.
Alaska is at joint fifth with Ginebra at 3-3.
From 19 points down, the Aces threatened to within eight, 76-84, in the fourth but the Hotshots quickly regained full control on key hits by Sangalang.
But Sangalang got big help from Barroca and Lee in essaying the empathic victory.
Barroca was a full of energy in churning out 19 points, five steals, four rebounds and four assists while Lee was deadly with 20 markers that went with eight boards and four dish-offs.
The three Magnolia top guns buckled down to work early, combining for 34 points in the first half where the Hotshots emerged with a 54-42 lead.
The two teams fought to a 27-all deadlock in the opening quarter before the Hotshots started to impose themselves.
And it's not all about Sangalang, Barroca and Lee.
Jio Jalalon and Rodney Brodial were there, contributing 12 points apiece.
For the Aces, Chris Banchero exploded for 21 in the first half but was held to five in the last two quarters. (SB)