Calvin Abueva capped a well-executed play by scoring the winning basket at the buzzer to push the Magnolia Hotshots to a slim 90-89 triumph over NorthPort Batang Pier in their early afternoon Friday game in the 2021 Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
The 6’3” Abueva knocked in the quick jumper after receiving a pass from Rome de la Rosa as Magnolia pulled off the scrambling win and completed a rally from a 17 point deficit.
The Hotshot improved to to 7-3.
With only one game left in their schedule, the Hotshots remained in contention for one of two coveted twice-to-beat berths in the quarterfinals.
“That’s the designed play, a back screen to Calvin and an alley-oop. And then, kung wala iyun, ang next option si Paul (Lee),” said Hotshots’ coach Chito Victolero.
Playing for 34 minutes, Abueva finished with 15 points and five rebounds behind Ian Sangalang, who topscored with 26 points and 10 rebounds.
Sangalang drilled in eight points in the last quarter, with his layup off Andy Barroca’s pass in the last 39 seconds allowing the Hotshots to stay in front, 88-87.
A split charity from Kevin Ferrer in the final seconds off Sangalang’s foul found its mark and almost cost the Hotshot the game as the Batang Pier grabbed the lead at 89-88.
“Good thing na-execute. Malaki ang puso ni Rome na ipasa kay Calvin ang bola,” added Victolero.
Barroca and De la Rosa shot 10 points each for the Hotshots, who have joined the TNT Tropang Giga (9-1) in the quarterfinals.
It was Barroca’s floater in the 3:33 mark of the third period which allowed the Hotshots to gain a seven-point cushion, 66-59.
Meanwhile, De la Rosa’s layup in the last 5:07 kept the Hotshots ahead, 82-78.
Batang Pier, with Sean Anthony providing a game-high 16 points, are now on the brink of elimination at 4-5.
To make it to the quarterfinals, Batang Pier need to win six more matches to qualify outright to the next stage.
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