Magnolia stays hot, trounces NLEX in Bulacan nail-biter

Jack Corpuz caught fire for the Hotshots in Baliwag. PBA Images
By John Rhey Piamonte

BALIWAG—Magnolia banked on a solid third-quarter run to escape NLEX in a tight 103-97 victory in the PBA On Tour, held at the jam-packed Baliwag Star Arena on Saturday night.

The Hotshots dropped a 12-3 bomb late in the third to break a 58-all deadlock and go up, 70-61, with Jack Corpuz, Jerrick Ahamnisi, and Jed Mendoza providing the spark off the bench.

Corpuz spearheaded the scoring charge for Magnolia as he registered a game-high 19 points. 

Magnolia kept its unblemished record alive, grabbing the solo lead with a 3-0 slate early in the pre-season while NLEX suffered its third straight loss. 

NLEX pulled off one last stand as Kevin Alas knocked down a crucial trey to cut the lead of Magnolia to three, 100-97 with 30 seconds left in the game. 

But Mendoza sealed the deal for the Hotshots after cashing in a trey with 12.4 seconds remaining that put the nail in the coffin against the Road Warriors. 

Magnolia's James Laput continued his impressive showing in the pre-season as he finished with a double-double performance of 18 points and 13 rebounds. 

Ahanmisi and Mendoza contributed 15 and eight points, respectively, also for the Hotshots. 

After a close first-quarter finish, NLEX exploded in the second salvo as the backcourt tandem of Alas and Don Trollano made it rain from beyond the arc, dialing six combined threes to snatch the lead, 53-45. 

Veteran guards Alas and Trollano had 15 markers each.

Newly-acquired NLEX big man Ben Adamos barged in with team-high 18 points.

Reliving its tradition of bringing the games closer to its fans, the game was the first time the PBA held a regular showdown outside Metro Manila since the Pampanga bubbles in 2020 and 2021.

Another clash on the road is set for next Saturday between San Miguel and Meralco in Tiaong, Quezon.

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