Magnolia enters PBA Comm's Cup semis

By Ivan Stewart Saldajeno

January 18, 2024, 6:07 am

MANILA – Magnolia booked the first seat in the PBA Commissioner's Cup semifinals after eliminating TNT, 109-94, in their quarterfinal showdown on Wednesday night at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.

The Hotshots blasted off in the fourth quarter, dropping 32 points on the Tropang Giga even as the Purefoods franchise held off the PLDT club's comeback late in the period.

Tyler Bey, one of three imports who made the quarterfinals while playing for the entire conference, led Magnolia with 41 points on 11-of-21 field goals including 3-of-4 from long range and a perfect 16-for-16 free throws, 13 rebounds, two assists, three blocks, and five steals while holding Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson, the current frontrunner in the Best Import of the Conference race after explosive numbers in his first two games as TNT replacement import, to only 27 points with eight turnovers.

Mark Barroca added 17 points on 7-of-13 field goals including 3-of-5 from deep, two rebounds, three assists, and two steals off the bench.

The Hotshots will take a breather over the weekend as the Meralco Bolts forced a rubber match in their quarterfinal series against the Phoenix Fuel Masters with a 116-107 triple-overtime win in the first game.

The Bolts completed a comeback from 15 points down in regulation as the Fuel Masters lost steam in the third extension and failed on their first try to return to the semifinals.

Down 77-62 with seven and a half minutes left in the fourth quarter, Meralco finished the regulation on a 22-7 run capped by a buzzer-beating triple from Chris Newsome to force the first overtime.

Phoenix opened the first extension with five straight points, but Meralco quickly recovered and even took the lead a 93-92 lead with 59 seconds left in the period.

Tyler Tio gave the Fuel Masters the lead again, 95-93 with a triple, but Aaron Black responded with a mid-range jumper off a jump ball situation to knot the count anew, 95-all, with 23 seconds left in OT 1.

Johnathan Williams had his first chance to close out the game for Phoenix, but Meralco's smothering defense forced him to two misses down low as a second overtime was called.

Williams had a golden opportunity to win it for the Fuel Masters at the free-throw line after Shonn Miller fouled him while going for a layup with 8.2 seconds left in the second overtime, but Williams missed two charities, although their defense forced Aaron Black to throw a tough right-handed teardrop that he missed badly.

However, the Bolts began the third overtime with a 10-0 run to take a 113-103 lead with 1:48 left.

RJ Jazul and Ken Tuffin kept Phoenix alive with back-to-back baskets, but Bong Quinto iced the game with a booming three with 37 seconds to go.

Cliff Hodge led Meralco, which canceled Phoenix's twice-to-beat advantage and forced a sudden-death game on Sunday, with 20 points, 10 rebounds, one assist, and one steal before leaving the game with a right ankle sprain.

Quinto added 19 points, two rebounds, and four assists, while Newsome, Miller, and Allein Maliksi each chipped in 18 markers with Miller also grabbing 20 rebounds.

Williams, who only rested for 38 seconds, finished with 24 points, 24 rebounds, six rebounds, three blocks, and one steal to lead the Fuel Masters.

Tio and Jason Perkins each put up 20 markers. (PNA)