By Tracy Cabrera
Mark Barroca shows the way as Magnolia moves one win away from advancing to the semifinals for the third straight conference. (Photo courtesy: Rappler)
QUEZON CITY, METRO MANILA — The Magnolia Hotshots scored a 98-89 win over the North Luzon Express (NLEX) Road Warriors in Game 1 of their Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup best-of-three quarterfinals series last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum here.
Magnolia point guard Mark Barroca made a sterling performance on the hard court to give the Hotshots a 1-0 lead that puts them a win shy from clinching a slot in the conference semifinals.
In the other quarterfinal match, Meralco Bolts defeated Barangay Ginebra, 93-82, to also grab a commanding 1-0 lead in their own best-of-3 quarterfinal series.
Barroca posted a game-high 24 points, seven rebounds, and two steals, while teammates Paul Lee and Calvin Abueva scored 13 markers apiece with the support of strong plays by power forwards Ian Sangalang and Jackson Corpuz and guard Jio Jalalon.
Sangalang added 12 points and seven rebounds while Jalalon and Corpuz combined for 20 to assist in Magnolia’s well-oiled offensive assault against the Road Warriors.
Magnolia coach Chito Victolero accredited his team’s win to his boys’ preparedness as he had reminded them “(they) need to be ready against a rugged and physical team” prior to their face-off.
“We’re staying in the present, we are working hard whatever is given to us. You saw how hard it was, it’s a grinding game, (NLEX) is very physical and emotional,” Victolero, who led the Hotshots to their eighth straight win after a 1-3 start in the eliminations, remarked after their victory.
Barroca 24, Lee 13, Abueva 13, Sangalang 12, Jalalon 10, Corpuz 10, Dela Rosa 6, Wong 5, Dionisio 3, Reavis 2, Escoto 0.
Semerad 19, Oftana 15, Trollano 15, Nieto 12, Chua 11, Quinahan 8, Paniamogan 3, Soyud 2, Varilla 2, Ighalo 2.
Quarters: 24-26, 64-47, 81-70, 98-89.