Magnolia, the runner-up of the 2019 Philippine Cup, just reminded every team in the PBA that they are still one of the legitimate contenders to win it all this year.
On the second day of PBA quadruple headers, the Hotshots showcased dominance against the best team in the league right now: the TNT Tropang Giga. They won 102-92.
Magnolia had control for most of the game, leading by as much as 18 at one point.
The Hotshots had great contributions from guys who came off the bench. Ian Sangalang had 15 points and nine rebounds, Chris Banchero finished with 19 points, four rebounds and five assists and Mark Barocca had 14 points, six rebounds, seven assists with three steals.
However, despite the great contribution of the trio, Magnolia was led by Paul Lee who erupted for 27 points, four rebounds and four assists and shot 9 of 17 from the field.
The Hotshots have won two straight games now with their previous win coming against another heavy favorite in Barangay Ginebra.
Magnolia are now starting to heat up in the PBA Bubble, and it’s happening at the perfect time.
“I know the character of this team and I know how they comeback, bounce back. This is good for us, we’ve learned a lot from our mistakes and sinasabi ko nga sakanila na everything na nangyayari samin, may purpose,” said head coach Chito Victolero in the post-game press conference.
The Hotshots were expected to be one of the front runners this season with Sangalang leading the way, as the two of the best big men in June Mar Fajardo and Greg Slaughter are not playing.
However, things didn’t start well for Magnolia right away, as they lost three of their first four games in the PBA Bubble.
But after a while, we’re now seeing the Hotshots squad that we know and love with a run and gun play style and great ball movement in the half court.
The rest of the league had better watch out.