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Magnolia levels series

That’s why we called it a Clasico

Paul Lee came in the right place at the right time and delivered the buzzer-beating, game-winning bucket to give Magnolia a 96-95 win over Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in Game 2 of their Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup semifinals series at the Philsports Arena on Friday.

Lee presided over his team’s offense all game long, leading the way with 24 points, including five triples.

So, it was not surprising why the Hotshots turned to their main man on offense in their final play just after Stanley Pringle handed the Gin Kings a 95-94 edge.

The Hotshots sued for time and went to Lee, who settled the issue once and for all.

Lee attacked the hoop but lost the ball and recovered it before firing a bank shot off the outstretched arms of Ginebra import Justin Brownlee.

Players of the Hotshots mobbed Lee in jubilation as Magnolia leveled their race-to-three semis series at 1-1 apiece.

“That’s why we called it a Clasico,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero. “You don’t know what’s going to happen. But we executed well on both ends of the court.”

“We talked about during Thursday’s practice the importance of this game because if we go down 0-2, it’s going to be impossible for us. So, this game was like a do-or-die for us.”

The Hotshots and the Gin Kings clash on Sunday’s Game 3 at 6:45 p.m to be held at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.

Magnolia import Nick Rakocevic finished the game with 23 points, 20 rebounds and three blocks, but more importantly, it was his presence the entire game that mattered most.

In Game 1, Rakocevic was called for a disqualifying foul halfway through the third period for tripping Christian Standhardinger. They were each assessed for a technical foul earlier in the game after colliding in one play.

This time, Ralocevic made sure he’ll carry the Hotshots home.

“We know that’s gonna happen,” added Victolero. “We expected that to happen as early as the quarterfinals when our opponents were trying to get him out of the game.”

“But we reminded him how important his presence is. We kept on reminding him and stayed on his face.”


The Scores:

MAGNOLIA 96 – Lee 24, Rakocevic 23, Jalalon 15, Abueva 10, Barroca 8, Sangalang 6, Ahanmisi 5, Dionisio 3, Dela Rosa 2, Corpuz 0, Wong 0

GINEBRA 95 – Brownlee 34, Pringle 17, Thompson 12, Tenorio 8, Malonzo 7, J.Aguilar 6, Standhardinger 6, Mariano 5, Pessumal 0, Gray 0

QUARTERS: 27-32, 51-50, 73-78, 96-95

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