IAN Sangalang banged in 26 points, topped off by the marginal basket, to power Magnolia into a thrilling 84-82 escape act over Alaska and into a share of the lead in the 46th PBA Philippine Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Sangalang received a perfect feed from Paul Lee and took care of business with his short stab that secured for the Hotshots their second straight win and a slice of top spot with idle Meralco Bolts and Rain or Shine.
The Aces dropped to 1-1.
"We knew this was not going to be an easy game, we will have to sweat it out," said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero, whose wards survived the Aces' furious rally from eight points down in the homestretch.
Part of the difficulty was the short preparation time for this game.
The Hotshots were supposed to play TNT and the Aces were to face Terrafirma but due to health and safety protocols, those games were postponed only last Tuesday. Alaska and Magnolia were instead pitted against each other in the new schedule.
"We had to commit to this because it's hard, we only had one day of preparation, so we need to adjust right away. That short preparation shouldn't be an excuse though, and I told the team to do hard work," said Victolero.
And work hard the Hotshots did.
Down by six after 24 minutes of play, the Hotshots cranked it up in the second half and seized an 80-72 cushion behind a 10-0 blast anchored on Lee.
The Aces didn't waver, though, as Yousef Taha and Rob Herndon spearheaded a 10-0 counterattack to wrest the lead, 82-80, with 1:08 left.
But the Hotshots couldn't be denied.
Sangalang levelled the count and even though Rafi Reavis later flubbed two chances to score the go-ahead at the stripe, Magnolia managed to get last possession with a Rome dela Rosa steal off Taha, 20.4 seconds left.
Lee drove in and set up Sangalang for the winner.
With a 2-0 card, Magnolia is off to its best start in the Philippine Cup under Victolero.
"Importante sa amin makakuha ng good start unlike nung nangyari sa amin sa bubble," said Sangalang, referring to Magnolia's losing start in the Clark bubble.
"50/50 game ngayon, nagawa namin, thankful kami na nanalo," he said.
Lee finished with 16 and two assists while dela Rosa added 12.
Taha led the Aces with a 20-10 double-double but committed a costly turnover in the last 20 seconds that hastened their fall. (OL)
Magnolia 84 - Sangalang 26, Lee 16, Dela Rosa 12, Barroca 10, Abueva 9, Dionisio 5, Jalalon 4, Corpuz 2, Reavis 0, J. Ahanmisi 0.
Alaska 82- Taha 20, Teng 10, Tratter 10, Banal 9, Herndon 8, Casio 7, Adamos 6, DiGregorio 6, Brondial 3, M. Ahanmisi 3, Browne 0.
Quarterscores : 26-25, 41-47, 65-66, 84-82