From a runaway Game One win, Magnolia Pambansang Manok went through a tough defensive game in Game Two but pulled through just the same.
The Hotshots overcame the Aces in a tough, tough grind Friday night, squeezing out a 77-71 win for a commanding 2-0 lead in the PBA Governors Cup best-of-seven finale at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
"From practice yesterday, we expected a dogfight. We expected a different Alaska team na malakas ang energy at matindi ang effort," said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero.
"First half, hindi kami makasabay, lagi kaming a step late. Talo sa lahat. Sabi ko sa halftime, kung hindi tayo makakasabay sa second half, di tayo mananalo. It's on the players, they responded in the second half," Victolero added.
Jio Jalalon scored five of his seven points in the last three minutes and helped the Hotshots through at the finish.
"Sa depensa namin sa fourth quarter nagsimula. Dahil sa depensa nakakuha kami ng magandang run. It's about mental toughness and the desire to win," said Jalalon, picking up from where he left off in Game One as he also piled up seven rebounds and seven assists in another superb all-around game.
Romeo Travis collected 25 points, nine rebounds and three assists as he also factored big time as the Hotshots moved two game away from winning the season-ending tourney.
It was a gripping defensive battle the Hotshots won as they held the Aces scoreless in the last five minutes of the game.
Magnolia was down, 70-71, before the crucial stretch.
The two teams stuck with the same units that they started in Game One, but Paul Lee had to come early off the bench as Rob Herndon drew two quick fouls.
Shortly before the sound of the buzzer, Ping Exciminiano scored on a breakaway layup off an error by Justin Melton as the Aces took the opening quarter at 22-20.
Then the Aces pressed harder, limiting the Hotshots to 16 points to make it 41-36 at the half.
The most glaring advantage for the Aces in the first half was their 27 rebounds as against the Hotshots' 18.
The Hotshots trailed most of the way but didn't allow the Aces to lead by more than nine.
Down 61-65 through the first three quarters, the Hotshots eventually had their first taste of the lead at 66-65 on a 5-0 binge from a charity by Ian Sangalang, a breakaway layup by Rome dela Rosa and a long twinner from Lee.
And the Hotshots played tough all the way through.(SB)
Magnolia 77 - Travis 24, Sangalang 11, Lee 8, Dela Rosa 7, Reavis 6, Melton 5, Simon 4, Brondial 3, Barroca 2, Herndon 0, Pascual 0.
Alaska 71 - Harris 22, Manuel 10, Banchero 9, Racal 7, Enciso 6, Casio 5, Teng 4, Exciminiano 4, Thoss 2, Cruz 2, Baclao 0, Pascual 0, Galliguez 0.
Quarters: 20-22, 36-41, 61-65, 77-71