By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok earned their first back-to-back victories in the ongoing PBA Philippine Cup after defeating the Columbian Dyip, 109-83, on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Struggled to have their campaign in the season-opening Philippine Basketball Association tournament to take flight in their first six games, the Hotshots gave themselves a boost with another convincing win over Columbian, their second in a row, to improve to 3-4 in the standings.
The win was in follow-up to their 103-96 victory over the Alaska Aces last time around even as the Hotshots dropped the Dyip to a 5-5 card.
Magnolia jump-started things in the first quarter, racing to a 15-6 lead with 4:15 left in the frame.
It would use it to build a 10-point cushion, 22-12, after the first 12 minutes of the match.
The Hotshots maintained dominance to start the second canto, stretching their lead to 17 points in the first two minutes.
But Columbian found its groove after, going on an 18-4 run in the next three minutes, led by rookie CJ Perez and guard Rashawn McCarthy, to come within three points, 33-30.
The Hotshots though regained their footing, paced by Jio Jalalon and Mark Barroca, rebuilding a double-digit lead anew, 41-30, with four minutes remaining, and a 48-38 advantage at the half.
Columbian came out in the third aggressive, coming closer to four points, 52-48, after just four minutes of play in the frame.
However, much like what they did in the previous two quarters, the Hotshots found ways to separate themselves from the Dyip again.
They went on a 12-4 fightback to go on top by 12 points, 64-52, by the 3:51 mark.
Magnolia took advantage of its newfound wave to make its way to a 75-57 lead after three quarters.
The Hotshots’ steady shooting spilt over into the final canto to keep the Dyip at bay, 83-62, with nine minutes left.
Columbian made attempts to narrow the gap but Magnolia had answers each time.
The count stood at 90-71 with six minutes to go, and the Hotshots still comfortably ahead.
From their Magnolia would not be threatened, moving on to roll to the key win.
Ian Sangalang led the Hotshots with 16 points with Mr. Barroca adding 14 and Rome Dela Rosa 12 points.
Mr. McCarthy was the high point man for Columbian with 19 with Perez adding 14 points.
“It’s all about our desire to win. I talked to the players about the importance of this game and they responded well,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero after the game.
“We are not out of the woods yet as we are still below in the standings but I’m happy where our game is right now, especially defensively, than in our earlier matches,” he added.