Magnolia rode on a blistering second quarter assault to take down NLEX, 98-89, and draw first blood in their best-of-three quarterfinals affair in the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Sunday, July 24.
Mark Barroca and Paul Lee anchored the decisive runs in the second frame, allowing the Hotshots to build a double-digit advantage which they never relinquished until the final buzzer despite the repeated rallies from the Road Warriors.
Barroca dropped 18 of his 24 points in the first two quarters – his career-high in the first half and tied for his second most points in a half – on top of seven rebounds and two assists.
Lee, on the other hand, chipped in 13 points and five assists as they combined for 20 in Magnolia’s 40-point output in the second frame which allowed them to build a commanding 17 point lead, 64-47, at the break.
Calvin Abueva provided boundless energy and hustle, finishing with 13 points and eight rebounds including the huge steal and breakaway jam late in the fourth to shut the door on the Road Warriors’ comeback hopes.
“Nakita niyo naman it’s very hard talagang grinding game, kahit hanggang dulo, they’re very physical, emotional so we just try to be focused for 48 minutes and we want to give our best effort every single possession. Medyo maganda yung execution namin on both ends, the discipline, the effort, the aggressiveness everything” said Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero.
Anthony Semerad paced NLEX with 19 points while Don Trollano added 15, even combining in a quick 8-0 spurt for NLEX to start the second half. Their effort, however, went for naught as Magnolia simply had answers to every NLEX run in the second half.
Game 2 of their series is on Friday at the FilOil EcoOil Centre in San Juan City.