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Macklin wins it for Magnolia in swan song as team rallies late to beat Meralco

Macklin went clutch in his final hurrah with the Hotshots. Dennis Acosta
By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--Vernon Macklin's stint with Magnolia came to an end on Friday night.

But he made sure that he will leave the team with a lasting impression.

Macklin, who is set to play in China, scored the game-winning free throws as the Hotshots came back from a late deficit to beat the Meralco Bolts, 81-79, in the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Friday night.

Magnolia was down, 72-79, with 1:48 remaining in the game.

But Aldrech Ramos scored on a crucial three-pointer with 1:37 remaining that cut the deficit to just four, 75-79.

Ramos then gave a hard foul on Arinze Onuaku that was merited as a flagrant foul. However, Onuaku missed both free throws and Chris Newsome muffed a tough layup in the ensuing possession.

Mark Barroca then scored on a one-hander that trimmed the gap further to two with 1:03 remaining.

Rafi Reavis fouled Onuaku while coming off the screen, and Onuaku missed two more charities.

Luckily, Cliff Hodge tapped the ball to Baser Amer off a loose ball scramble only for Amer to miss a layup.

Paul Lee was fouled by Hodge while the former went for a drive, and Lee, who was perfect from the stripe, made two free that tied the game at 79-all with only 32 seconds left.

Newsome had a chance to regain the lead for Meralco, but he missed a jumper, and Macklin secured the rebound.

Lee decided to go for the kill and found Macklin underneath. Newsome fouled Macklin while going for a hook shot, and Macklin made the eventual game-winning free throws with 3.1 seconds left.

Newsome had a golden opportunity to force overtime as he got free inside, but Newsome missed the alley-oop finish and Rafi Reavis grabbed the game-saving defensive rebound.

Macklin's final bow ended with a 21-point and 15-rebound performance with one block and one steal for the Hotshots, who moved up to 3-1.

Lee drained four triples and finished 8-for-8 from the stripe for 20 points with three rebounds and six assists.

Barroca got five of their 10 total steals along with 18 points, two rebounds, and three assists.

Onuaku came close to a triple-double again with 23 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists with one block and one steal, but he finished the game with just five made free throws out of 21 tries.

The scores:

MAGNOLIA 81 - Macklin 21, Lee 20, Barroca 18, Sangalang 6, Reavis 6, Ramos 3, Herndon 3, Brondial 2, Dela Rosa 2, Pascual 0, Simon 0, Sangalang 0, Abundo 0.

MERALCO 79 - Onuaku 23, Newsome 15, Amer 14, Dillinger 12, Canaleta 7, Amer 4, Baracael 2, Hugnatan 2, Ballesteros 0, Salva 0, Hodge 0, Lanete 0, Tolomia 0.

Quarterscores: 19-16, 34-31, 50-56, 81-79.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno