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Magnolia stays alive

Magnolia kept its flickering title chances alive after overcoming TNT Tropang Giga, 105-97, in Game 5 of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup best-of-seven semifinal series yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

After losing its defensive intensity in the past two games, the Hotshots relied on their mental toughness to slice the deficit to 2-3, setting the stage for an explosive Game 6 on Sunday.

Mark Barroca fired 16 of his game-high 25 points in the first half, paired with six rebounds and four assists, while Ian Sangalang powered a double-double game of 16 markers and 10 rebounds.

Calvin Abueva and Paul Lee combined for 32 points, and Jia Jalalon had his best game in the series with 15 markers in 19 minutes of action.

“We did a good job on defense. We’re here because of that, we did a good job on sustaining that for 48 minutes,” Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero said.

“We limited the fouls, we played physical but we’re still following our plays. We had a grinding game on both ends of the floor.”

Victolero said they perform best when the series is on the line.

“Our backs are against the wall, it was a do-or-die game and we showed our mental toughness,” Victolero said.

“We just wanted to live another day.”

With Jalalon suffering a hamstring sprain and Lee struggling with his offense, Barroca took control of the offense to anchor Magnolia on a 59-45 lead, the largest first-half output from either team in the series.

The Hotshots also threw their defensive blanket, limiting gunner Mikey Williams to only 13 points on nightmarish 5-of-16 shooting while forcing the Tropang Giga to commit 21 turnovers.

Glenn Khobuntin fired a corner three-pointer to cut the deficit to within three, 92-95, but Lee nailed six straight markers that made it difficult for the Tropang Giga to come back, 103-94, under 2:04 left.
Jayson Castro led all TNT cagers with 18 points, six rebounds and five assists, followed by Troy Rosario with 17 points on a losing effort.

The Scores:

MAGNOLIA (105) — Barroca 25, Abueva 16, Lee 16, Sangalang 16, Jalalon 15, Dionisio 10, Dela Rosa 3, Reavis 2, Escoto 2, Wong 0.

TNT (97) — Castro 18, Rosario 17, Erram 16, M.Williams 13, Pogoy 13, Khobuntin 12, K.Williams 6, Montalbo 2, Reyes 0, Ganuelas-Rosser 0.

QUARTERS: 28-26, 59-45, 81-73, 105-97.

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