MAGNOLIA continued its rise in the PBA Commissioner's Cup, counting on Phoenix as its latest victim, 99-96, Saturday at the Astrodome.
Import James Farr connived with Paul Lee in the Hotshot's third straight win to improve their record at 3-2 for solo fourth place after opening their campaign with back-to-back losses.
Lee finished with a team-high 27 points and seven assists, while Farr had 26 including 11 in the first quarter. He also added 18 rebounds as the import racked up a third consecutive victory as against a single loss since taking over the place of the injured John Fields.
"I expected this to be a dog fight, a grind out game. We knew Phoenix is a strong team." said coach Chito Victolero.
"Unti-unti bumabalik yung rhythm ng mga players, bumabalik yung rhythm ng team ko."
Mark Barroca and Jio Jalalon also finished in double figures with 11 and 10 points respectively, as they took advantage of a depleted Phoenix backcourt that was without LA Revilla, who suffered a fractured foot in the Fuel Masters' 78-76 win over Alaska last week.
Veteran Marc Pingris finally saw action for the Hotshots after more than a year of absence as he recovered from the ACL/MCL injuries he suffered during the semifinals of the Philippine Cup last year.
The 37-year-old forward was greeted by fans and even some of the players from Phoenix with a warm applause as he entered the court at the eight minute mark of the second period of the Petron Blaze Saturda Special.
Pingris, who was out for a total of 16 months, failed to score in seven minutes of play.
Import Richard Howell poured in huge numbers of 36 points and 20 rebounds, but not enough to save Phoenix from absorbing its fourth loss in six outings.
Matthew Wright contributed 19 points but struggled from the field by going 8-of-20. RJ Jazul added 15 points and was 4-of-6 from three-point range. (RG)
Magnolia (99) - Lee 27, Farr 26, Barroca 11, Jalalon 10, Dela Rosa 8, Sangalang 8, Brondial 7, Melton 2, Pascual 0, Pingris 0, Herndon 0.
Phoenix (96) - Howell 36, Weight 19, Jazul 15, Chua 8, Marcelo 7, Mallari 6, Wilson 3, Dennison 2, Perkins 0, Kramer 0, Intal 0.
Quarterscores: 23-24; 47-45; 71-67; 99-96.