By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok stretched current winning streak in the Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup to three games after adding the Columbian Dyip to their list of victims, 113-95, on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Established control right from the get-go, the Hotshots just sustained their fine play as the contest moved on to dominate the Dyip to improve to 5-1 in the ongoing tournament and get a share of the top spot along with defending champions Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings.
The Hotshots began proceedings with their vaunted defense, holding down the Dyip to take an 18-8 lead at the 4:42 mark of the first quarter.
They would continue to dictate the tempo the rest of the way to go on top, 31-20, after the opening frame.
Magnolia sustained their strong in the second quarter with Mark Barroca and import Romeo Travis leading the way.
It extended its lead to 15 points, 45-30, after five minutes into the period.
Columbian tried to rally back behind import Akeem Wright and Jackson Corpuz, coming to within 11 points, 52-41, with 3:40 to go.
The Dyip did not go closer than that though as the Hotshots pulled away anew to build a 60-46 halftime advantage.
In the third quarter, the Hotshots’ cushion piled up as more players joined the scoring fray.
The lead ballooned to 28 points, 77-49, at the 7:11 mark.
Columbian though would continue to fight back, managing to trim its deficit, 92-70, at the end of three quarters.
Led by backup guard Dan Sara, the Dyip showed some signs of life to start the fourth period, cutting the Hotshots’ lead to just 16 by the 9:56 mark of the quarter, 93-77.
It proved to be short-lived though as Magnolia forced its will anew and nipped the Columbian mini rally.
The lead was back at 20 points, 102-82, with 6:37 to go before the Hotshots sped away and booked the victory.
Mr. Travis nearly finished with a triple-double with 32 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists, followed by Mr. Barroca who added 16 points.
Paul Lee had 13 points while Ian Sangalang finished with 11.
Mr. Corpuz paced still-winless Columbian (0-7) with 20 points to go along with nine rebounds with Mr. Wright adding 19 points, eight rebounds and six assists.
Jerramy King and RaShawn McCarthy had 12 points each.
“This was a very important game for us and we cannot afford to relax. This was our fourth game in 10 days and we needed to finish strong. And we had to keep our mindset, particularly on defense, there and help our chances in the tournament,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero after their win.