January 24, 2018, 9:38 am
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Hotshots keep Picanto winless

MAGNOLIA needed just one quarter to quash Kia’s hopes of starting the New Year on a high.

Paul Lee found his touch just in time and the Hotshots’ defense kicked into place as Magnolia opened its 2018 campaign with a 124-77 beatdown of the Picanto last night in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Ian Sangalang and Justin Melton led those who held the fort before Lee waxed hot in the pivotal third period with all 13 of his points that helped point Magnolia well on its way to its second win in three games.

Harassed into taking bad shots and committing 11 turnovers, the Picanto were limited into just 11 points in the third while the Hotshots scored 34 to go into the final canto with an 81-60 spread.

It was all downhill for Kia and new coach Ricky Dandan from there as Magnolia led by as much as 117-75 before holding on and ultimately tying idle NLEX and Phoenix at third.

Meralco would catch the three if the Bolts prevail over the 0-2 Alaska Aces later in the evening.

“We just needed to adjust in the second half, especially on our defense kasi ang dami nilang offensive rebounds at second chance points sa first half,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero.

“We just needed to have that desire and effort to win in every possession, kasi nga haphazard kami nu’ng first half.”

Melton finished with 23 points, six rebounds and eight assists while Sangalang added 21 points and nine boards.

After missing his first three shots Lee made all his last five, including a couple of triples, in the third period before sitting out the final quarter. He and Marc Pingris did their part even from the sidelines.

“Maganda third quarter ni Paul, nag-take over siya that’s why umalagwa opensa namin, nahawa iba. And then iyung leadership ni Paul and Ping, na laging kinakausap teammates nila,” related Victolero. 

Kia absorbed its third loss in as many games in the season-opening conference and the Columbian Motors franchise has now lost a total 15 straight dating back to the last Commissioner’s Cup.

Welcoat, now Rain or Shine, also lost 15 straight spanning the Philippine Cup and Fiesta Conference during the 2007-08 season.

All because the Picanto failed to sustain their fine start to the game which saw them battling their foes on almost even terms and going into the halftime break with a 49-47 edge.

Then Magnolia’s defense tightened up, forcing Kia into a 1-of-12 field shooting and seven miscues that enabled the Hotshots to go on a 15-2 burst for a 62-51 lead.

“Maganda naging adjustments namin, kahit paano iyung masamang depensa nu’ng first half naka-recover kami ng second half,” said Victolero.

Magnolia’s listless start took off when Marc Pingris got a busted upper lip off an inadvertent shoulder hit from Jackson Corpuz five minutes into the game. 

Pingris returned and things sort of evened out when Corpuz had to leave the game due to a left wrist injury he suffered following a bad fall and was taken out for good with sill 7:25 left in the game.

Corpuz wound up with nine points and 13 rebounds, just behind the double-doubles of JayR Reyes and Rashawn McCarthy’s 12-12 points and 11-11, respectively.
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