MAGNOLIA leaned on the second half explosion of Paul Lee to end Barangay Ginebra's PBA Philippine Cup title bid with a 85-72 win Wednesday night in their sudden-death encounter at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Lee hit 13 of his game-high 25 points in a searing third quarter in which the Hotshots outscored the Kings, 28-13. His two three-pointers highlighted that game-changing run that allowed Magnolia to finally take control.
And just when the Kings rallied back from a 22-point deficit to cut it down to just nine, Lee was again there to bail the Hotshots out of danger, hitting a timely three-pointer that made it 81-69 in the final 2:39 mark.
"Yung mga players ko they stayed composed and knew what to do. Yun buti naka-recover kami," said coach Chito Victolero afterwards.
Lee was 5-of-8 from three-pointer and added five rebounds and three assists.
Mark Barroca added 13 while the frontcourt duo of Aldrech Ramos and Ian Sangalang had 13 and 11 for the Hotshots, who eliminated the Kings in the playoffs for the second straight conference.
Sangalang also had 10 rebounds as the Hotshots leveled things up with the Kings in crashing the board, 45-45.
"We're not the most talented team, but in terms of chemistry, I think we're no. 1," added Victolero
Magnolia will meet no. 2 seed Rain or Shine in the best-of-seven semifinals starting Friday.
"Sana next week pa ang semis para makapahinga pa kami," Victolero said in jest.
It was a sorry loss for the third seeded Kings, who actually took the initiative after leading the series, 1-0, only to lose the next two outings.
Jeff Chan topscored for Ginebra with 17 points, Japeth Aguilar with 16 and seven rebounds, while Joe Devance had all of his 12 points in the first half.
Ginebra also shot a paltry 34 percent from the field compared to Magnolia's 48 percent.
Magnolia 85 - Lee 25, Barroca 13, Ramos 11, Sangalang 10, Reavis 6, Jalalon 6, Brondial 5, Dela Rosa 4, Melton 3, Herndon 2.
Ginebra 72 - Chan 17, Aguilar 16, Devance 12, Slaughter 9, Mercado 8, Tenorio 5, Thompson 3, Dela Cruz 2, Ferrer 0.
Quarters: 20-23; 42-37; 70-50; 85-72.