Dec 25, 2021

Hotshots turn Clasico into Christmas Day massacre

NO way the Magnolia Hotshots would let them down on this special night.

The ball club held a jersey retirement ceremony for two Magnolia legends at halftime, and the Hotshots made the night more memorable with a 117-94 rout of the Barangay Ginebra Kings in the 2021 Christmas Day Manila Clasico at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Mike Harris upstaged Justin Brownlee and the Magnolia core outperformed their Ginebra counterpart, pulling off a dominant victory in the mainer of the kickoff bill of the PBA special "Season of Joy" presentation.

Councilor Irene Belmonte did the ceremonial toss in behalf of Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte.

Harris erupted for 29 points, 15 rebounds and five assists with five local teammates contributing double-digit outputs as the Hotshots roared to a third straight win in the 46th PBA Governors' Cup while dealing the Kings a first loss in four starts.

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"We know Ginebra is a great team, but today is our day," said Harris.

"It's our defense. All week, we're focused on our defensive schemes and rebounding, and we kept them to just one shot," Harris also said. "At halftime, we said it's 0-0. You win every quarter and you win the game."

They did win all quarters as they turned the highly anticipated match into a Christmas Day massacre.

The Hotshots dominated from the get-go, racing to a 19-point lead at the half, 61-42, with a big first half highlighted by an 11-to-nothing run.

Harris piled up 17 points and seven rebounds in their first-half show also marked by Magnolia's 24-7 advantage on bench point production.

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At the break, Marc Pingris and Peter June Simon took the centercourt as the Magnolia franchise retired their jerseys.

And there's no slowing down the Hotshots at the resumption of play opened by a Paul Lee three-pointer.

Magnolia later stretched the lead to as big as 31. And Lee was there to hit dagger shots when Ginebra tried to make a run in the fourth quarter, sparked by outside snipings by Arjun Tolentino.

Lee came through with 20 points before limping off the court after a spill with 5:08 left to play. The Magnolia combo guard fired 4-of-9 three-pointers and added four rebounds and three assists.

Calvin Abueva had a slow start but finished with 13 markers that went with six boards and two dish-offs.

Jio Jalalon, Mark Barroca and Jerrick Ahanmisi added 12, 11 and 10, respectively. (SB)