(Image courtesy of PBA)

MANILA – Alex Cabagnot lived up to his role as San Miguel's closer when he nailed the winning basket as the Beermen stole Game 1 of the PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinals from the NorthPort Batang Pier, 88-87, at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga on Sunday night.

Cabagnot scored on a tough jumper with 1.5 seconds left just when everyone thought the Batang Pier would complete the stunner.

Earlier, Cabagnot missed a free throw with 7.3 seconds and SMB holding an 86-84 lead.

Robert Bolick then drained a long three-pointer to put NorthPort ahead, 87-86, with 5.1 ticks to go.

Cabagnot quickly received the ball off the inbound and drove past Sidney Onwubere before going for the stepback jumper.

Onwubere had a chance to redeem himself, but his desperation heave from the right wing did not even hit the rim as time expired.

Cabagnot's heroics capped a 20-point night off the bench alongside three rebounds for the Beermen, who can clinch the best-of-three series in Game 2 on Thursday.

Mo Tautuaa added 15 points, five rebounds, and one assist while June Mar Fajardo had 10 points, 11 boards, four assists, and one block.

Greg Slaughter made 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Batang Pier.

In the first game, Magnolia limited Rain or Shine to eight points in the third quarter to walk away with an 81-70 victory and a similar 1-0 lead.

ROS moved to within four, 64-60, with 9:08 remaining, but Paul Lee came alive just in time with crucial baskets.

Lee finished with 20 points -- 14 in the fourth quarter -- and four rebounds for the Hotshots, who will also go for the clincher on Thursday.

Ian Sangalang added 19 points, 13 rebounds, and one assist.

Calvin Abueva, currently ahead in the Best Player of the Conference (BPC) race, chipped in eight points and 13 boards.

Santi Santillan made 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting for the Elasto Painters.

Tight BPC battle

Abueva is neck-and-neck with Bolick and NLEX rookie Mikey Williams in the race for the season-opening conference's BPC award.

In an update of the statistical points (SPs) standings up to the end of the elimination round, Abueva is ahead of the pack with an average of 35.36 SPs a game, Williams is second at 35.3, and Bolick third at 35.27.

Abueva and Bolick played all 11 games in the elimination round, while Williams missed the Tropang Giga's season opener.

Meanwhile, the Rookie of the Year battle is a tight battle between Williams and NorthPort’s Jamie Malonzo. (PNA)

The scores:

First Game:

MAGNOLIA 81 - Lee 20, Sangalang 19, Jalalon 10, Dela Rosa 10, Abueva 8, Barroca 8, Corpuz 4, Pascual 2, Brill 0, Melton 0, Reavis 0, Ahanmisi 0, De Leon 0, Capobres 0, Dionisio 0.

RAIN OR SHINE 70 - Santillan 17, Nambatac 16, Mocon 11, Belga 8, Borboran 5, Norwood 3, Caracut 3, Ponferada 3, Yap 2, Torres 2, Guinto 0, Wong 0, Asistio 0, Johnson 0, Tolentino 0.

Quarters: 21-16, 37-42, 60-50, 81-70.

Second Game:

SMB 88 - Cabagnot 20, Tautuaa 15, Perez 14, Ross 12, Fajardo 10, Santos 9, Lassiter 8, Pessumal 0, Romeo 0, Zamar 0, Gotladera 0, Comboy 0, Gamalinda 0, Sena 0.

NORTHPORT 87 - Anthony 16, Slaughter 15, Malonzo 13, Bolick 13, Taha 10, Ferrer 8, Onwubere 7, Elorde 3, Rike 2, Subido 0, Balanza 0, Doliguez 0, Lanete 0, Grey 0, Faundo 0.

Quarters: 21-19, 44-43, 65-60, 88-87.