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Magnolia holds off also-ran NorthPort to zero in on QF spot

Ian Sangalang imposed an interior threat again for the Hotshots. PBA Images
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Magnolia breathed a sigh of relief in the end after dodging an upset bid from NorthPort through an 83-76 PBA win on Sunday night at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center.

The Hotshots were on cruise for a blowout after opening a 76-56 lead early into the fourth quarter.

However, the Batang Pier suddenly went on a 20-4 run later in the quarter to draw to within 76-80 with 2:57 remaining.

Magnolia bounced back defensively as the team held NorthPort scoreless the rest of the way even as Ian Sangalang scored the game's last three points.

Sangalang finished with 23 points, nine rebounds, and one block off the bench for the Hotshots, who are now tied with the Meralco Bolts, 95-93 winners over the Terrafirma Dyip earlier Sunday, and the Alaska Aces for fourth place at 6-4.

Paul Lee, who exploded in Magnolia's previous wins, played facilitator this time, dishing out eight assists with 14 points, six rebounds, and one steal.

The team only needs to beat Blackwater on Wednesday night to formalize its entry to the quarterfinals.

After a 39-point explosion, Chris Standhardinger was held to only 18 but also had 17 rebounds, four dimes, one block, and one steal for NorthPort, which fell to 1-8.

Kevin Ferrer also got 18 markers with three boards, one assist, and one block.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno_

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