|Romeo Travis soared to a triple-double to lead the Hotshots back to the semis. PBA Media Group|
By Ivan Saldajeno
QUEZON CITY--Magnolia clinched the first seat to the PBA Governors' Cup semifinals after eliminating Blackwater, 103-99, at the start of the quarterfinal round at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Tuesday night.
A far cry from their elimination round encounter, the Hotshots still had the last laugh over the Elite as the former booked a quick return to the Final Four after missing the cut last conference.
Magnolia raced to a huge start as it dropped 32 points on Blackwater at the end of the first quarter.
The Elite, however, slowly crawled back and eventually took a seven-point lead, 91-84, with 6:11 to play in the fourth quarter.
The Hotshots responded with an 11-3 run to take the lead back, 95-94, with 3:14 to go.
Allein Maliksi still gave Blackwater the lead as he drained two free throws for the 96-95 count with 2:35 left.
But Magnolia answered with five straight points to give the team the lead for good, 100-96, with 1:22 to play.
The Elite still threatened as Paul Zamar made a booming triple with 33 seconds left that cut the lead back to one, 100-99.
Romeo Travis kept the door open for Blackwater as he only put up a split from the free throw line for a 101-99 count with 12 seconds left.
John Pinto had a golden opportunity to give the team the win as he found himself open for the corner three, but his attempt rimmed out and Paul Lee iced the game with two free throws in the ensuing play.
Travis put up a triple-double of 18 points, 20 rebounds, and 12 assists with one steal for the Hotshots, who will face the winner of the game between Barangay Ginebra or the NLEX Road Warriors later Tuesday in the semifinals.
Lee had a double-double of 22 points and 12 rebounds with three assists and one steal.
Ian Sangalang also made 18 markers along with eight boards, two dimes, and four blocks.
Henry Walker struggled for the Elite in their elimination game, only making 7-of-22 field goals and 2-of-8 free throws for 18 points with eight rebounds, five assists, and one steal.
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