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Magnolia survives NorthPort's Q3 scare to keep Top 4 hopes alive

Antonio Hester bucked foul trouble to put up a dominating performance for the quarterfinal-bound Hotshots. PBA Images
By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY—Magnolia nearly put into waste an explosive second quarter but regrouped in time to clobber NorthPort, 129-109, in their PBA Governors' Cup battle on Thursday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Hotshots pulled away in the second quarter with a 42-16 blast to open a 73-47 halftime lead against the Batang Pier.

NorthPort, though, came alive in the third quarter, outscoring Magnolia, 37-25, to cut the lead down to 16, 98-82, entering the fourth.

The Hotshots eventually escaped after dropping 31 on the Batang Pier in the final canto.

Antonio Hester led Magnolia, which has officially clinched a spot in the quarterfinals at 5-4, with 28 points on 12-of-17 shooting, 14 rebounds, three assists, and one steal.

Mark Barroca, playing in his 539th career PBA game to keep the current "Iron Man" streak alive, added 21 points, two rebounds, and eight assists, while Calvin Abueva chipped in 18 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, three steals, and one block.

The team now needs to win its remaining two games to get a chance to finish with a twice-to-beat advantage in the next round.

Kevin Murphy put up 31 points, six rebounds, six assists, and two steals, while Robert Bolick chipped in 30 points, one rebound, five assists, and one steal for NorthPort, which dropped to 2-7.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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