After yielding a lot in the first half, Magnolia Pambansang Manok fought for every possession in the second half and scored a 103-90 victory over NorthPort that forced a three-way logjam at sixth place in the PBA Philippine Cup eliminations at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Wednesday night.
Though bruised and battered in a highly physical battle, Paul Lee played on and led all scorers with 24 points, including six three-pointers.
The Hotshots clamped down on defense and drew tremendous energy on their defensive stoppages as they pummeled the Batang Pier, 50-31, in the last 24 minutes of play.
It was rollercoaster ride for the Hotshots that ended in a crucial win and forged a three-way tie at sixth place with the NLEX Road Warriors and the Alaska Milk Aces at 4-5.
"We allowed them to score 59 points in the first half but we limited them to 31 in the second half. And that's the story of the game," said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero.
In making the necessary adjustments in the second half, the Hotshots added to the woes of the Batang Pier who went down with a sixth straight loss after a 2-0 start in the all-Filipino tourney.
"We're playing important back-to-back games. Sabi ko kay Paul pagkatapos na ng laro namin against Blackwater sa Friday siya magpahinga," said Victolero.
Ian Sangalang, Rodney Brondial, Justin Melton, Jio Jalalon and Mark Barroca had their own solid jobs, with all of them finishing with at least 11 markers.
But Victolero insisted their defensive effort in the second half was the key in their victory.
"In our huddle at the half, I told the guys if we don't play defense in the second half, we'd lose the game. Ginawa nila lahat to stop NorthPort. They limited NorthPort to 31 in the second half, and that's a big advantage for us," said Victolero.
The two teams actually fought to a 23-23 tie in the third period before the Hotshots punished the Batang Pier with their tough defense in the final canto where they held NorthPort to a franchise-low of eight points.
"We allowed them to score 59 points in the first half. Parang worst namin in the conference 'yun. Yun na usually yung ibinibigay namin sa kalaban in three quarters," said Victolero.
The Hotshots did respond to their coach in the last two quarters. In the final period, the Hotshots only gave away three points to Moala Tautuaa, a pair of twinners to Sean Anthony and Stanley Pringle and a charity to Bradwyn Guinto.
The Batang Pier went without a bucket in the last four minutes of play or since Guinto made it 90-93 on a split from the stripe. (SB)
Magnolia 103 - Lee 24, Sangalang 20, Brondial 14, Jalalon 11, Barroca 11, Melton 11, Dela Rosa 5, Reavis 5, Herndon 2, Pascual 0.
Northport 90 - Anthony 22, Tautuaa 19, Pringle 15, Grey 14, Lanete 8, Guinto 4, Elorde 3, Bolick 3, Taha 2, Gabayni 0, Sollano 0.
Quarters: 33-25, 53-59, 76-82, 103-90.