By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE “Manila Clasico” quarterfinal series between the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings is set for a one-game decider after the former took Game Two of the best-of-three affair, 106-77, on Monday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Fended off in the opener last Saturday, the Hotshots returned the favor with a dominant performance in the second game to force a rubber match on Wednesday.
Ian Sangalang and Jio Jalalon jolted the Magnolia attack with 21 and 17 points, respectively, to help their team get the win that got them back in the series.
Magnolia started the game on fire, building an 11-0 lead in the first four minutes, which it would use to eventually hold a 25-18 advantage after the opening canto.
In the second quarter, the Kings tried to make up some ground but the Hotshots were staunch in their stand not to allow their opponents to gain much headway.
The count was at 39-34, and Magnolia on top, with five minutes to go before Messrs. Jalalon and Sangalang and the Hotshots moved to create further separation at the half, 51-38.
The third quarter saw the Hotshots blowing open the game.
With contributions coming from different directions, Magnolia outscored Barangay Ginebra, 15-6, in the first six minutes, to stretch its lead to 24 points, 68-44.
Scottie Thompson and Kevin Ferrer tried to provide some answers for the Kings but the Hotshots kept them at a bare minimum.
The Magnolia lead hit the 30-point plateau, 78-48, at the 2:57 mark.
When the quarter smoke cleared, it was an 81-54 separation for Magnolia.
With control of the match on their side, the Hotshots went for the early closeout.
The score was at 87-56 with still 8:18 to go and from there Magnolia cruised to the series-tying win.
“We just made an effort to play defense and we executed well,” said Mr. Jalalon on what did for them in Game Two.
“Everybody contributed to this win, not only the players but also the coaches and the people on the bench,” he added.
Mr. Jalalon also had six assists and five steals to merit player of the game honors.
Game Three of the Manila Clasico is set for Wednesday at 7 p.m. also at the Big Dome.