The Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok is one of the top defensive teams in the PBA but Friday against the TNT KaTropa, the Hotshots showed they can win with offense.
The Hotshots defeated TNT 116-103 at the Ynares Center to be the first team to clinch a spot in the top four and a twice-to-beat advantage in the PBA Governors' Cup quarterfinals.
Magnolia limited their first nine opponents to an average of 88.8 points per game. Magnolia's defense couldn't hold the potent TNT offense to that average but the offense carried them.
Ian Sangalang was the Best Player of the Game with 28 points and six rebounds off the bench for coach Chito Victolero. Sangalang was 13-of-19 from the field.
"We executed the plays well. When we get a lot of assists, we gain rhythm. We got easy layups inside and it helped us get this win," Sangalang said in Filipino. "We needed the win for a spot in the top four."
Magnolia had 30 assists in the game with Romeo Travis, Paul Lee, and Jio Jalalon combining for 21.
The Hotshots took control in the second quarter and took a comfortable 62-48 lead into halftime. Each TNT rally in the second half was stifled and Magnolia grew the lead to as many as 18 points en route to the victory.
Marqus Blakely, who faced his former team for the first time, notched a triple-double with 17 points, 18 rebounds, and 11 assists. Terrence Romeo and Troy Rosario led TNT with 23 and 21 points, respectively.
Magnolia had five players with at least nine points. Lee had 19 while Travis had 18. Mark Barroca and Justin Melton took care of the outside shooting with a combined 30 points on 7-of-9 shooting from 3-point range.
It was TNT's second straight loss and drops it to 4-6 and a tie for eighth place with the Meralco Bolts. TNT faces Barangay Ginebra in their final game while Meralco has the San Miguel Beermen.
Magnolia 116 - Sangalang 28, Barroca 21, Lee 19, Travis 18, Melton 9, Jalalon 9, Reavis 4, Brondial 4, Dela Rosa 2, Herndon 2.
TNT 103 - Romeo 23, Rosario 21, Blakely 17, Castro 13, Cruz 8, Trollano 7, Pogoy 6, Carey 4, Williams 4, Golla 0, Garcia 0, Reyes 0.
Quarters: 33-30, 62-48, 89-78, 116-103.
Castro last saw action for the TNT KaTropa on September 2 when they defeated Columbian Dyip 118-114 in overtime. He was out because he had bone spurs removed from his foot.
Blakely is one of the more beloved imports for the franchise as he led them to two titles in the Governors' Cup, the latter of which completed their Grand Slam.
Magnolia -- October 28 vs. Barangay Ginebra at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
TNT -- November 4 vs. Barangay Ginebra at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.