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Magnolia pulls off epic Game 1 comeback vs SMB at start of PH Cup Finals

A 6-0 blast capped by back-to-back jumpers from Ian Sangalang put the Hotshots up, 103-100, with 43.2 seconds remaining. Dennis Jerome Acosta

By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--Magnolia pulled off a huge comeback to steal the first game of the best-of-seven PBA Philippine Cup Finals from San Miguel via a 105-103 win at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Friday night.

Despite a hot first half, the Beermen failed to complete the rout as the Hotshots turned to defense down the stretch to snatch the first blood.

The Beermen quickly found their stroke from the get-go and opened a 20-point lead, 72-52, in the third quarter

However, the Hotshots went blistering from thereon as they cut the lead down to one, 89-88, with 7:20 left.

SMB got a bit of a relief after four straight points stretched its lead to five, 93-88, with 6:08 to go.

Magnolia, however, still never gave up and eventually tied the game 97-all, with 3:24 remaining.

The Beermen led one more time, 100-97, with 2:31 remaining, but a 6-0 blast capped by back-to-back jumpers from Ian Sangalang put the Hotshots up, 103-100, with 43.2 seconds remaining.

SMB stayed in the game as Marcio Lassiter hit a triple to tie the game at 103-all with 33.9 seconds left.

However, Sangalang attracted Junemar Fajardo off the fake and fished the foul with 16.5 seconds remaining. Sangalang made two free throws to put Magnolia back ahead, 105-103.

Lassiter looked to take over once again, but he nearly fumbled, forcing him to pass the ball to Alex Cabagnot for a botched corner triple.

Things, however, became a bit controversial from there as Rafi Reavis, following the rebound, called for time with four seconds remaining but with one foot stepping on the baseline. The referees decided to honor Reavis' timeout to the dismay of the Beermen.

However, Jio Jalalon kept them in the game as he missed two free throws and fouled Chris Ross while going for the rebound, giving them 2.6 seconds to force overtime or even take the win.

The Hotshots' defense forced the Beermen to settle for a Arwind Santos jumper that was blocked by Reavis as time expired.

Sangalang finished with 29 points, 14 in the fourth quarter, nine rebounds, one assist, and two steals for Magnolia, which will have a chance to enter the Holy Week with a 2-0 lead in Game 2 on Sunday night at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.

Fajardo was solid all game long as he made 31 points on 10-of-15 field goals and 11-of-13 free throws with 18 rebounds, one assist, and three blocks, but he too committed 11 turnovers, eight coming in the second half, where the defense began to adjust on him.

Box Scores:

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

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno