Dec 01, 2023

Big second-half rampage propels Hotshots past Road Warriors

THE Magnolia Hotshots seemed to get rusty from an 11-day respite. But that was the case just in the first half.

Tyler Bey and his teammates shook off a flat start and fired on all cylinders in the second half as they blasted the NLEX Road Warriors, 99-72, to stay undefeated going to the halfway mark of their ride in the PBA Commissioner's Cup eliminations at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig Friday.

Playing with tremendous hustle, energy and effort in their return from the halftime break, the Hotshots pounced on the Road Warriors, 55-26, in a big second-half rampage on the way to a 16th straight win dating back to the preseason PBA On Tour.

Coach Chito Victolero's red-hot squad improved to 5-0 in the season proper while spoiling Stokley Chaffee's PBA debut as they dealt the Road Warriors a third loss in five starts.

Jio Jalalon was all over the floor, serving as the spark plug in the Hotshots' third-quarter breakaway from 44-46 down at the half.

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In one play, the diminutive guard stole off Chaffee then ran a fastbreak play where he set up Mark Barroca for a layup. In another, Jalalon took a double-spin then a double-pump in a tough drive to highlight Magnolia's decisive spurt from a 56-all count.

By the end of the third, the Hotshots were already in control, 74-60, and they refused to slow down to sustain their blazing run and remain the lone unbeaten team in the tourney.

Jalalon finished with a sterling all-around numbers with 11 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and four steals even as he called it a game with over three minutes left to play and the Hotshots already way ahead.

Gutsy efforts were drawn by the Hotshots from numerous players including James Laput who came through with a career-high 16 points on top of two rebounds and one assist in 23 minutes of action.

Mark Barroca and Paul Lee were their usual highly dependable selves, with the former collecting 19 points and nine rebounds and the latter chipping in 14 markers.

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Though Bey was limited to 23 points and six rebounds with six turnovers, the Hotshots pulled through with a big win behind a splendid team effort.

Going down the drain for the Road Warriors was their strong start and Chaffee's solid debut with 23 points and 19 rebounds.

The new NLEX import had had 13 markers and 14 boards in the first half, distinguishing himself as only the second player this conference to record a double-double right in the first 24 minutes of play. The first was Phoenix' Johnathan Williams (14 and 10) last Nov. 10 curiously versus the Road Warriors themselves. (SB)