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Hotshots score win No. 1

Antonio Hester, the player brought in to plug the middle, immediately made his presence felt in his first game back in the Philippine Basketball Association.

The burly but shifty import filled in the void for the Hotshots, who finally barged their way into the win column of the Governors’ Cup after drubbing Phoenix Super LPG, 108-95, Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Hester threw his weight around and completely outplayed his counterpart, fellow returning reinforcement Du’Vaughn Maxwell, who wasn’t in top shape owing to a back injury.

Previously an import of Terrafirma, Hester proved to be a good fit for Magnolia’s team play.

He finished with 28 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and four steals and proved to be the import the Hotshots needed in getting their game going.

The Hotshots lost their first three games, but Hester was determined to change the fortunes of a Magnolia team that has been a consistent playoff performer.

Hester’s presence was clearly felt, particularly on inside points where the Hotshots scored 42, 16 more than their rivals.

“This guy changed a lot of our movements,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero, referring to the impact created by Hester.

“He changed a lot of our offensive schemes and without Ian (Sangalang), we don’t have a post threat. That’s why we got this guy to open up the floor and give our guards the chance to get their shots. The locals are playing very well now.”

Hester felt at home with his new team barely a week after returning to Asia’s pioneering professional basketball team and right from the get-go, he showed his eagerness to help the squad nail a win.

“That’s one of the things we talked about, to bring me out and help turn things around,” Hester added.

“When I got a call to play for Magnolia, I was excited because I know the system of this team and my game fits their game as I am a pass-first guy.”

With Hester in charge inside, the rest of the players were more efficient playing their respective roles.

Four players also ended up in double figures for the Hotshots with Mark Barroca the most consistent local shooter, winding up with 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the field.

Calvin Abueva also sparkled on both ends of the floor, registering a double-double performance of 18 points and 10 rebounds while Paul Lee hit four triples on his way to score 14 and Jerrick Ahanmisi made 12, all of them coming from beyond the arc as Magnolia connected on 15 of its 34 shots thrown from the three-point region for a steady 44 percent clip.

Magnolia led by as many as 27, 63-36, early in the third period.

The Scores:
MAGNOLIA (108) — Hester 28, Barroca 19, Abueva 18, Lee 14, Ahanmisi 12, Dela Rosa 6, Escoto 4, Wong 3, Jalalon 2, Laput 2, Corpuz 0, Reavis 0, Dionisio 0, Mendoza 0.
PHOENIX (95) — Perkins 20, Muyang 15, Tio 13, Maxwell 11, Jazul 9, Serrano 8, Manganti 6, Alejandro 4, Soyud 3, Adamos 3, Go 3, Lalata 0, Garcia 0, Camacho 0.
QUARTERS: 23-21, 58-36, 87-67, 108-95.

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