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Magnolia delivers last road block on NLEX to set up finals vs SMB

The Purefoods franchise is heading to the finals again! Dennis Acosta

By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--After four years, Purefoods is back in the PBA Finals.

The multi-titled franchise, currently under the name Magnolia Hotshots, sealed a date with sister team San Miguel for all the marbles in the PBA Philippine Cup after eliminating NLEX through a 96-89 semifinals Game 6 win at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Tuesday night.

The Hotshots clawed back from a hot start by the Road Warriors as key steals down the stretch sealed their first finals berth since completing the 2014 grand slam.

Looking to force a Game 7 on Thursday, NLEX went off to a hot start as Larry Fonacier led the team's 29-point outburst on Magnolia in the first quarter.

The Hotshots' defense came alive in the second quarter as they outscored the Road Warriors, 29-17, to take a 49-46 halftime lead.

Despite a 7-0 NLEX run to start the third, Magnolia quickly restored order through the rest of the period, although NLEX stayed in step as well.

The Road Warriors eventually fizzled in the end as two bad passes leading to the game's last five points by the Hotshots sealed the outcome of the game

Ian Sangalang led Magnolia, which will begin its titular clash with SMB on Friday back at "The Big Dome", with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and one assist.

Mark Barroca also had a point-rebound double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds alongside five assists and one steal.

Jio Jalalon had his own double-double of a career-high 13 assists and 11 points with five rebounds and two steals, the last one off a Kiefer Ravena bad pass that led to the game-turning three-point play by Barroca.

Mike Miranda's career-high 20 points went down the drain as NLEX came two wins short of making the finals.

Box Scores:

Magnolia 96-Sangalang 15, Barroca 14, Jalalon 11, Ramos 10, Pascual 10, Lee 9, Dela Rosa 9, Reavis 6, Simon 6, Herndon 4, Brondial 2

NLEX 89-Miranda 20, Fonacier 17, Baguio 10, Ravena 9, Mallari 8, Taulava 7, Soyud 6, Tiongson 5, QuiƱahan 4, Ighalo 3

Quarterscores: 20-29, 49-46, 71-68, 96-89

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno