MANILA – Rome Dela Rosa scored on a game-winning triple with six seconds left as Magnolia scored its first win in the PBA Philippine Cup at the expense of NorthPort, 80-77, on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Through Dela Rosa's heroics, the Hotshots evaded a huge comeback threat from the Batang Pier.
Magnolia was ahead by as much as 17, 40-23, late in the second quarter, but NorthPort came alive in the second half and even took the lead before an up-and-down fourth quarter led to a 77-all tie.
However, Jio Jalalon found Dela Rosa wide open from the left wing for the dagger with six seconds left.
"We want Jio to create for his teammates, and good thing Calvin [Abueva] and also Aris [Dionisio] dived to the basket. And then nag-collapse sila, so si Rome yung nalibre (they collapsed, so Rome became wide open)," Coach Chito Victolero said after the game.
Arwind Santos tried to force overtime, but he missed the potential game-tying three as time ran out on the Batang Pier.
Abueva led Magnolia, now up to 1-2, with 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting, 12 rebounds, one assist, one steal, and one block.
Paul Lee added 12 points, one rebound, four assists, and one steal, while Ian Sangalang and Mark Barroca played through respective injuries and chipped in eight markers each.
Arwind Santos put up 18 points, 12 rebounds, one assist, two blocks, and one assist, while Jamie Malonzo showed he deserves to be the PBA Press Corps Player of the Week during the opening week with 15 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, and three blocks for NorthPort, which suffered its first loss of the season after a 2-0 start.
In the main game, Ginebra scored its second win in as many games after beating Rain Or Shine, 90-85.
Both teams exchanged dominance per quarter, but the Gin Kings prevailed as the Elasto Painters came up just short of completing the comeback in the fourth quarter.
Ginebra surged ahead in the first quarter, opening a lead as high as 18 points and dropping 31 points before settling for the 15-point lead entering the second.
ROS, however, came back in the second quarter and was just within one, 44-45, at halftime.
The Gin Kings threatened to pull away again, opening a 21-point lead, 79-58, early in the fourth quarter.
However, the E-Painters rallied again and were just within five, 82-87, with 36 seconds left.
Clutch free throws eventually iced the game for Ginebra as ROS eventually fizzled in the end.
Japeth Aguilar followed up on his game-winner against the Blackwater Bossing with a solid performance of 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting, seven rebounds, one assist, and two blocks for the Gin Kings, who now tie the San Miguel Beermen on top of the standings at 2-0.
Scottie Thompson added 16 points, six rebounds, eight assists, and two blocks.
Beau Belga made 14 points, making all of his five shots inside the three-point line, 10 rebounds, seven assists, and one steal for the E-Painters, who fell to 0-2. (PNA)