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Calvin Abueva buzzer-beater lifts Magnolia past NorthPort to enter PH Cup playoffs

Ian Sangalang's double-double paced the Hotshots before Calvin Abueva finished the job at the final buzzer. PBA Images
By Carl Santiago

MANILA--After a wild ending everyone thought wouldn't happen considering NorthPort's blistering start, Magnolia escaped with a crucial victory.

Magnolia took down NorthPort, 90-89, on a Calvin Abueva buzzer-beater as the PBA Philippine Cup continued on Friday at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.

The Batang Pier were off to a good start against the Hotshots as they led as many as 17 in the first quarter before settling for a 26-12 advantage behind an impressive stint from the returning Greg Slaughter, who had six points off the bench in the said period.

Ian Sangalang carried the fight for Magnolia in the first half as he tallied 13 points after the first 24 minutes, but NorthPort, who got help from Jamie Malonzo, who had seven in the second quarter and 12 for the entire first half, entered halftime still ahead, 47-44.

Magnolia's comeback went full blast when a Paul Lee jump shot at the 7:32 mark of the third quarter gave them the lead, 56-55.

The team would stretch its lead to as high as seven points before NorthPort recovered at the end of the third period to cut the lead down to one, 69-68.

Both teams went toe-to-toe for most of the fourth quarter, setting up the down-the-wire finale.

Sean Anthony's layup gave NorthPort a one-point lead, 85-84, with 2:53 left in the game, but the team could not buy a basket in the next plays and Sangalang regained the lead for Magnolia, 86-85, with a layup with 1:27 to go.

Paolo Taha got fouled with 45 seconds left and sank two free throws to give NorthPort the lead again, 87-86.

But after a timeout, Sangalang quickly scored on a layup to give Magnolia the lead back 88-87.

NorthPort wouldn't bow down as Kevin Ferrer retook an 89-88 lead for the team as he drove to the basket for the go-ahead layup.

Ferrer, however, missed the bonus free throw off Sangalang's last foul, giving Magnolia 2.6 seconds to steal the win.

Abueva answered the call when he caught an inbound pass from Rome Dela Rosa inside the lane and scored the game-winning lay-in that gave Magnolia a quarterfinal berth.

'That's a designed play," Coach Chito Victolero simply described the winning moment.

Sangalang racked a double-double of 26 points and 10 rebounds alongside two assists and one block to lead Magnolia, which improved to 7-3.

"Yung game na ito, para sa akin, personally, yung stepping stone para makapasok kami sa playoffs, magkaroon kami ng chance sa number one or makuha namin at least yung number three," said Sangalang, whose squad solidified its hold of the third spot in the standings while staying close with second-placed Meralco in the race for a Top 2 finish where a once-to-advance advantage in the quarterfinals is at stake.

The Bolts, like the Hotshots, formally clinched a quarterfinal spot with the result along with the Rain Or Shine Elasto Painters.

Magnolia's next game is against San Miguel, which is playing Phoenix as of posting, on Sunday.

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