Magnolia bucks late Nick Rakocevic injury, takes down TNT

Calvin Abueva sizzled just in time for the Hotshots. PBA Images
By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--Magnolia banked on a hot fourth quarter from Calvin Abueva and clutch free throws from Paul Lee to stave off an injury to Nick Rakocevic and beat TNT, 94-92, in their PBA Commissioner's Cup game at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Hotshots somehow avenged their Philippine Cup semifinal defeat to the Tropang Giga, but it was not without some drama.

Magnolia had to play all-Filipino the rest of the way after Rakocevic hurt his knee when a teammate bumped it after making a shot.

However, Abueva, already saddled with five fouls, was already taking over the team by that time, and he eventually gave the team the lead, 92-90, with a floater with 32 seconds left.

Cameron Oliver answered with a putback off his own miss to force a 92-all deadlock with 26.4 seconds remaining.

Lee eventually won it for the Hotshots after draining two free throws off a Calvin Oftana foul with 4.3 seconds left.

However, the foul became a reason for Coach Chot Reyes to fume and confront the technical committee after the game, which ended with the Tropang Giga failing to even attempt a buzzer-beater.

Reyes immediately exited the arena following their post-game huddle.

Abueva finished with 25 points, 15 in the fourth quarter, nine rebounds, three assists, two steals, and one block for Magnolia, which moved up to 3-0.

Rakocevic added 22 points, 15 rebounds, two assists, one block, and one steal.

Oliver erupted for 43 points, 17 rebounds, five assists, and two blocks, while RR Pogoy added 23 markers, five boards, two dimes, and three swipes for TNT.

Oftana finished with 12 points, seven caroms, two assists, and one interception in his much anticipated TNT debut.

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