By Vivem Soriano
Eagle News Service
Magnolia climbed up from a 20-point 2nd half deficit to grab a 105-103 upset victory over the San Miguel Beermen in Game 1 of the Philippine Cup Finals at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
Ian Sangalang led Magnolia in the comeback win with 29 points and 9 rebounds, shocking the heavily-favored San Miguel squad who is gunning for a historic 4th straight Philippine Cup title.
Magnolia kept the game close early, playing good defense against San Miguel.
It even led a number of times by 2 points early during the opening quarter before SMB unleashed an offensive onslaught to mount a 33-25 lead at the end of the 1st quarter.
It was still all San Miguel in the 2nd quarter, who went into the halftime break with a 63-47 lead highlighted by Marcio Lassiter’s difficult 3-point buzzer beater at the end of the half.
The reigning 3-time All-Filipino champions seemed to be cruising to an easy Game 1 victory, increasing their lead to 20 with a June Mar Fajardo free throw at the 8:21 mark of the 3rd quarter.
But Magnolia refused to back down, hammering the Beermen with an 18-0 run to cut the Beermen lead down to a single point, 89-88.
Magnolia guard Paul Lee then tied the ballgame at 97-all with 3:25 remaining in the game.
Sangalang and Mark Barroca then gave Magnolia a 3-point 103-100 lead before SMB sharpshooter Lassiter converted a three-pointer to tie the game again at 103-all.
Sangalang then made two free throws after Fajardo fouled him in the act on the ensuing possession to give Magnolia a 105-103 lead.
The referees missed a crucial call with 4 seconds remaining in the game, allowing Magnolia center Rafi Reavis to call a timeout after a rebound when replays clearly showed that he was stepping out-of-bounds when he asked for the timeout.
But Magnolia gave the Beermen some hope for life after guard Jio Jalalon missed two free throws.
The Pambansang Manok, however, played terrific defense against San Miguel in the next possession to finally seal the Game 1 victory.
Aldrech Ramos came off the bench to score 15 points for Magnolia. Barroca added 14 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists.
San Miguel, meanwhile, was led by reigning 4-time MVP Fajardo, scoring 31 points, pulling down 18 rebounds but committed 10 costly turnovers. SMB captain Alex Cabagnot barely missed a triple-double, registering 27 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists. Lassiter added 21 for SMB while former MVP Arwind Santos added 19.
One glaring and horrendous statline against the Beermen was their bench output. Magnolia outscored SMB’s bench 47-1. Only Chris Ross registered a point for the SMB reserves.
Magnolia is still playing without veteran center Marc Pingris who will be out for the rest of the season with an ACL injury. Guard Justin Melton missed the rest of the game after aggravating his thigh injury after a layup attempt during the 1st half.
San Miguel will try to bounce back and tie this Philippine Cup Finals series in Game 2 on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City at 6:30 p.m.
Magnolia 105 – Sangalang 29, Ramos 15, Barroca 14, Dela Rosa 11, Herndon 8, Jalalon 7, Reavis 6, Pascual 5, Lee 4, Melton 0, Simon 0, Brondial 0.
San Miguel 103 – Fajardo 31, Cabagnot 27, Lassiter 21, Santos 19, Rosser 4, Ross 1, Pessumal 0, Espinas 0, De Ocampo 0.
Quarterscores: 25-33, 47-63, 75-89, 105-103