By JONAS TERRADO
(DHVSU Gym, Bacolor)
2 p.m. — Meralco vs Blackwater
4:35 p.m. — Alaska vs TNT
Calvin Abueva’s buzzer-beating basket capped off a wild finish that gave Magnolia Pambansang Manok a 90-89 victory over NorthPort and a berth in the quarterfinals of the PBA Philippine Cup yesterday at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Inbounder Rome dela Rosa found Abueva near the basket with 2.6 seconds left before the latter made a turnaround shot over Kevin Ferrer to beat the clock as the Hotshots pulled off an escape act over a stunned Batang Pier side.
Dela Rosa got a break on that winning play after NorthPort coach Pido Jarencio opted to sit out 7-footer Greg Slaughter and brought in a smaller Sidney Onwubere, allowing the Magnolia cager to have a clearer view of the situation.
Magnolia improved to 7-3 after its second last-second victory of the conference. Ian Sangalang, who led the way with 26 points, converted a shot at the buzzer to defeat Alaska, 84-82, last July 21 at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
NorthPort suffered its second straight loss and fell to 4-5 after wasting a 17-point lead in the first quarter and led 89-88 when Ferrer scored off a foul shortly after teammate Sean Anthony received a technical foul after signaling for a timeout despite having none left.
Hotshots guard Paul Lee missed the technical free throw with 7.3 left, before Anthony redeemed himself by passing the ball to Ferrer for the go-ahead basket and a foul to boot. Ferrer, however, missed the bonus charity and the ball went out of bounds in Magnolia’s favor, setting up Abueva’s winner.
Meanwhile, Blackwater hopes to avoid setting a new record for consecutive losses and end a disappointing campaign on a winning note against Meralco in today’s twinbill.
The Bossing go into the 2 p.m. match with the Bolts having lost 18 straight games which tied the dubious mark set during the 1980 season by Great Taste/Tivoli Fun Drinks bridging the Open Conference and the All-Filipino.
Blackwater is also looking to prevent being the first team in four years to go winless in a conference. Terrafirma, then known as Kia, lost all 11 games during the 2017 Governors’ Cup.
The likes of Simon Enciso and Carl Bryan Cruz will try to score an upset over Meralco, which aims to firm its grip on second spot despite the expected absence of key players Chris Newsome and Cliff Hodge for the second straight game.
Newsome, Hodge and Toto Jose missed Meralco’s 95-83 win over Terrafirma two days ago due to the league’s COVID-19 protocols.
A win will also boost Meralco’s bid to claim the second twice-to-beat advantage in the quarters. The Bolts hold a 6-2 record, barely ahead of the Hotshots for second spot.
TNT looks to end its elimination round assignment with a win against Alaska in the other game at 4:35 p.m.
The Tropang Giga aim to end the elims at 10-1 in a non-bearing game since they are already sure of the twice-to-beat incentive and the top seed in the quarters.
Alaska plays the second of three games in three consecutive days after resuming its campaign last night against defending champion Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
MAGNOLIA 90 — Sangalang 26, Abueva 15, Lee 13, Barroca 10, Dela Rosa 10, Ahanmisi 8, Dionisio 6, Jalalon 2, Corpuz 0, Reavis 0.
NORTHPORT 89 — Slaughter 21, Anthony 16, Malonzo 14, Taha 14, Bolick 10, Onwubere 4, Lanete 4, Balanza 2, Rike 2, Ferrer 2.
Quarters: 12-26, 44-47, 68-67, 90-89.