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Magnolia leans on defense to stop TNT

What’s important is that we got it because of proper mindset. I told them that we are here because of our defense.

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MAGNOLIA’S Ian Sangalang (right) tries to work his way against TNT defender Poy Erram during PBA action in Pampanga. / PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF PBA

Magnolia survived a monster game from Mikey Williams to pull off a 106-98 win over TNT Tropang Giga in Game 3 of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup best-of-seven finals at the Don Honorio Ventura State University (DHVSU) Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.

Williams poured 39 points on 10-of-18 shooting from the arc, the highest output in a PBA Finals game by a rookie since Eric Menk had 42 points in the 1999 all-Filipino finals.

But the Hotshots drew double figures from five players led by Paul Lee’s 21 points to nail their first victory and avoid falling into a 0-3 hole.

Ian Sangalang delivered 20 markers, seven boards, five assists and four blocks.

Mark Barroca also finished with 16 points and three assists, while Calvin Abueva and Jio Jalalon combined for 25 points.

Hotshots head coach Chito Victolero said defense spelled the difference, as they forced TNT to only 35 percent shooting from the field and 17 turnovers.

“We changed our defense, I think the other team also noticed that. We had a better defense this time,” Victolero said.

“What’s important is that we got it because of proper mindset. I told them that we are here because of our defense.”

Unlike in the first two games, the Hotshots quickly seized control with Jio Jalalon and Lee hitting seven consecutive markers to give the team a 52-46 lead at the half.

The Hotshots stepped on the gas as Barroca and Jalalon gave the Hotshots their biggest lead at 95-77, before Williams and Dave Marcelo buried treys to push TNT to within four points, 98-102, with only 24 seconds.

Magnolia, however, kept its poise at the end with Rome de la Rosa and Ian Sangalang hitting four clutch charities to ice the game.

Victolero said they are looking to level the series in Game 4.

“We just want to compete and win every single game. No matter what it is, eliminations or playoffs, that’s always our goal,” Victolero added.

The scores:
MAGNOLIA (106) — Lee 21, Sangalang 20, Barroca 16, Abueva 14, Jalalon 11, De la Rosa 9, Corpuz 7, Reavis 5, Ahanmisi 3, Melton 0.
TNT (98) — M. Williams 39, Pogoy 14, Erram 10, Castro 9, Heruela 8, Marcelo 7, K. Williams 4, Reyes 3, Rosario 2, Khobuntin 2, Montalbo 0, Exciminiano 0, Mendoza 0.
Quarters: 26-20, 52-46, 82-77, 106-98.

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