ANTIPOLO - Paul Lee took matters into his own hands in the dying minutes as Magnolia repulsed Barangay Ginebra, 106-98, to gain a head start in their 2018 PBA Governors' Cup semifinal series.
With the Gin Kings mounting a comeback from 13 points down, Lee stepped up and dropped the last nine points including the three-point play that sealed the win with 56 seconds remaining.
Lee's dazzling performance came with 27 points, four rebounds, three assists, and four steals.
It was import Romeo Travis, though, who topscored for the Hotshots with a PBA career-high 37 points on top of 16 rebounds, five assists and two blocks. Justin Melton chipped in 11 points.
Defense got Magnolia going in the second period as the Hotshots limited the Gin Kings after allowing the latter to score 39 points in the opening period.
With its pesky defense, Magnolia held Ginebra to just 16 points in the second period while putting the cuffs on Justin Brownlee, who was scoreless during that frame.
Magnolia refused to slow down, leading by as many as 14 points. But the reigning champions didn't easily throw in the towel.
With a balanced attack, the Gin Kings chewed into the lead and got to as close as two on a 6-to-nothing run, 93-91. Travis was quick to restore order with a pair of free throws before Lee went on a tear.
"My players were maybe too excited in the first quarter. It happens. Good thing we were able to make some adjustments in the quarters that followed," said Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero in Filipino.
Brownlee paced Ginebra with 37 points, 14 rebounds, eight assists, and three steals. Japeth Aguilar chipped in 18 points and six rebounds. LA Tenorio added 13 points, five assists, and a pair of rebounds and steals.
Ginebra looks to bounce back in Game 2 which is set on Monday, 7 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Magnolia 106 - Travis 37, Lee 27, Melton 11, Sangalang 7, Barroca 6, Dela Rosa 6, Jalalon 5, Pascual 4, Herndon 3, Brondial 0, Reavis 0.
Ginebra 98 - Brownlee 37, Aguilar 18, Tenorio 13, Slaughter 8, Thompson 7, Chan 5, Mariano 4, Ferrer 4, Mercado 2.
- Brownlee erupted with 20 points on a 4-of-6 clip from three in the opening quarter. His shooting turned sour, though, after the Hotshots tightened their defense from the second period.
- Scottie Thompson had seven points, five rebounds, six assists, three steals, and a block, but committed game-high seven turnovers.