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Magnolia on threshold of Finals ticket, overcomes Ginebra

Ian Sangalang (C, #10) provided needed points and defense to help Magnolia get a 2-0 lead in its semis match-up with Ginebra. PBA Media Bureau

By Ricky Manliguis

MANILA-- Magnolia moved a win away from clinching a finals seat as it fashioned out a 101-97 win over Barangay Ginebra in Game 2 of the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup semifinals Monday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. 

The Pambansang Manok nearly squandered a 12-point fourth-quarter lead behind a furious Ginebra stand but put off the escape to take a commanding 2-0 advantage in the best-of-five affair. 

They will have a chance to sweep the series in Game 3 slated Wednesday also at the Big Dome. 

Magnolia had already established a 95-82 lead on a jumper by Romeo Travis with 3:48 left in the fourth quarter. Justin Brownlee then fired a 6-0 salvo on his own to come within 89-95 on the 2:18 mark.

After Jio Jalalon restored order with a floater for 97-89, Ginebra again went on a run of eight consecutive points, capped by LA Tenorio's triple from the corner to trim the lead to just a basket, 97-99, time down to 24 seconds.

Paul Lee was then fouled with 18 ticks left, but split his charities, opening a chance for  Ginebra to map out one last play.

But Tenorio and Brownlee both missed potential-tying triples, before Travis slotted a free throw for the final score.

Travis registered 25 points and 12 rebounds for Magnolia. Ian Sangalang bounced back from a poor Game 1 with 17 markers, four boards and four blocks, while  Paul Lee and Rome Dela Rosa issued 14 and 11, respectively.

“I knew it’s a grinding game. We tried to prepare mentally because we knew Ginebra will bounce back hard," said coach Chito Victolero after the game.

“Being 2-0 up in a best-of-five series is nothing until you win the third game,” he added. “We know that we are the underdogs and we need to work hard, to double our efforts to have a chance in this series.”

Justine Brownlee came three assists shy of a triple-double with 31 points, 12 rebounds, and seven dimes for Ginebra, which lost coach Tim Cone after being ejected with 9:18 left in the game. 

LA Tenorio and Japeth Aguilar both cashed in 15, while Greg Slaughter had 14. 

The scores:

Magnolia 101 - Travis 25, Sangalang 17, Lee 14, Dela Rosa 11, Barroca 9, Jalalon 8, Reavis 6, Melton 5, Simon 5, Herndon 1.

Ginebra 97 - Brownlee 31, Tenorio 15, Aguilar 15, Slaughter 14, Thompson 7, Mercado 7, Mariano 4, Chan 2, Caguioa 2, Ferrer 0.

Quarters: 21-18, 47-46, 75-68, 101-97.

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