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Lee sizzles as Hotshots near playoff entry  



(PBA Images)

CLARK – Paul Lee erupted anew, delivering the crucial baskets that towed Magnolia to a 70-62 win over Rain or Shine in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup Saturday at the Angeles University Foundation Arena here.

Lee fired 31 points, including a pair of jumpers in the final minute to help the Hotshots hold off the Elasto Painters and cruise to their fourth straight win in this special conference that is being played inside the quarantine bubble.

With the win, the Hotshots have improved to 5-4 win-loss slate and is a win away from joining Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, TNT Tropang Giga, Phoenix Super LPG and Alaska in the next round.

Tapped by the Elasto Painters as the second pick of the 2011 Rookie Draft, Lee also had five rebounds and two assists while big man Ian Sangalang provided the energy in the defensive end with 14 points, five rebounds and a steal.

“The leadership of Paul and other veterans really helped us get this win. They really stayed vocal and found ways to win,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero, giving special credit to the former University of the East star who has been averaging a sizzling 29 points in their last three outings.

After leading by as much as 18 points in the first half, the Hotshots found themselves in trouble after Elasto Painters forwards Jewel Ponferada and Rey Nambatac unleashed a 12-0 run that sliced their deficit to only one, 62-61, with only 3:38 left in the game.

But Magnolia kept its composure with Sangalang sinking a baseline jumper to erect a slim three-point lead, 64-61, in the final 3:17 mark.

Then, Lee came to the rescue nailing a pair of tough fadeaway jumpers entering the final 60 seconds to douse cold water to the sizzling Rain or Shine rally.

Victolero said now that they are just one win away from clinching a quarterfinal berth, they will work hard to build momentum.

“We never had any doubt in our system. There might have been some frustrations, but we talked about our playoff mentality and the grind that we put in every game,” he said.

“What we have right now is very impressive. We want to hold on this one.”

Kris Rosales and Ponferada registered 14 and 13 points, respectively, for Rain or Shine, which suffered its third straight loss for a 4-4 slate.



Box Scores:

MAGNOLIA (70) — Lee 31, Sangalang 14, Barroca 8, Jalalon 7, Reavis 4, Dela Rosa 4, Banchero 2, Calisaan 0, Corpuz 0, Melton 0.

RAIN OR SHINE (62) — Rosales 14, Ponferada 13, Nambatac 11, Wong 5, Belga 5, Norwood 4, Mocon 3, Onwubere 3, Torres 2, Yap 2, Arana 0, Borboran 0.

Quarters: 19-16; 39-21; 56-46; 70-62.