MAGNOLIA has Kia's number.
Additional proof to this fact is the Hotshots' 124-77 thrashing of the Picanto Wednesday, the latest in a series of brutal beat downs by the former of the latter.
Everything fell into place for Magnolia in the second half as it joined idle NLEX and Phoenix at third-running spot on a 2-1 slate following the PBA Philippine Cup game at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
It all started in the third quarter, where the Hotshots outscored the Picanto, 34-11, to raze a 47-49 halftime deficit and go into the final canto with an 81-60 spread.
It was all downhill for Kia and new coach Ricky Dandan from there as Magnolia led by as much as 117-75 with the damage inflicted by the Hotshots' relievers.
In the end, the 47-point winning margin equaled the worst loss in Kia franchise history which Magnolia, then known as Star, dealt in the last Governors Cup.
Three of the Picanto's worst losses are now actually to the same team, including a 37-point drubbing in last season's Philippine Cup.
"We just needed to adjust in the second half, especially on our defense kasi ang dami nilang offensive rebounds at second chance points sa first half," was how Magnolia coach Chito Victolero started to explain the big turnaround.
"We just needed to have that desire and effort to win in every possession, kasi nga haphazard kami nu'ng first half, e."
Melton finished with 23 points, six rebounds and eight assists while Sangalang added 21 points and nine boards.
After missing his first three shots Lee made all his last five, including a couple of triples, in the third period before sitting out the final quarter. He and skipper Marc Pingris did their part even from the sidelines.
"Maganda third quarter ni Paul, nag-take over siya that's why umalagwa opensa namin, nahawa iba. And then iyung leadership ni Paul and Ping, na laging kinakausap teammates nila," related Victolero.
The loss was Kia's third in as many games in the season-opening conference and the Columbian Motors franchise has now lost a total 15 straight dating back to the last Commissioner's Cup.
Welcoat, now Rain or Shine, also lost 15 straight spanning the Philippine Cup and Fiesta Conference during the 2007-08 season.
Blame it all on the Picanto failing to sustain their fine start to the game which saw them battling their foes on almost equal terms and even going into the halftime break with a 49-47 edge.
Then Magnolia's defense tightened up, forcing Kia into a 1-of-12 field shooting and seven miscues in the first seven minutes of the third that enabled the Hotshots to go on a 15-2 burst for a 62-51 lead.
"Maganda naging adjustments namin, kahit paano iyung masamang depensa nu'ng first half naka-recover kami ng second half," said Victolero.
Magnolia's listless start took off when Pingris got a busted upper lip off an inadvertent shoulder hit from Jackson Corpuz some five minutes into the game.
Pingris did return and things sort of evened out when Corpuz had to leave the game due to a left wrist injury he suffered following a bad fall and was taken out for good with sill 7:25 left in the game.
Corpuz wound up with nine points and 13 rebounds, just behind the double-doubles of JayR Reyes and Rashawn McCarthy, who notched 12-12 and 11-11, respectively.
MAGNOLIA 124 - Melton 23, Sangalang 21, Herndon 14, Lee 13, Simon 11, Jalalon 11, Ramos 7, Gamalinda 6, Pingris 6, Barroca 4, Pascual 4, Dela Rosa 2, Brondial 2.
KIA 77 - Reyes 12, McCarthy 11, Celda 11, Tubid 11, Corpuz 9, Yee 6, Khobuntin 5, Paniamogan 5, Jamon 3, Caperal 2, Sara 2, Camson 0, Ababou 0, Galanza 0.
Quarters: 22-22, 49-47, 81-60, 124-77.