The Magnolia Hotshots close in on a Philippine Cup playoff spot behind Rome dela Rosa's 17 points and Ian Sangalang's 16 points and 10 rebounds in a 97-87 win over the Blackwater Elite Friday at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo City.
Magnolia has won five of its last seven games to improve to 5-5 and close in on a PBA Philippine Cup playoff berth. Magnolia is in sixth place, just behind the defending champion San Miguel Beermen at 6-4. Blackwater, meanwhile, bowed out of the Philippine Cup at 2-9.
The Pambansang Manok shot 45 percent from the floor and dominated the boards with a 57-41 advantage against the Elite. Paul Lee came off the bench and fired 16 points, overcoming his shooting woes by contributing nine rebounds and four assists. Lee shot just 3-of-10 from the floor, but was a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line..
Mark Barroca, playing with a flu, added 11 points, five assists and two steals, while Rodney Brondial had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Former Magnolia wingman Allein Maliksi and Mac Belo led the Elite with 16 points apiece.
Magnolia 97 - Dela Rosa 17, Lee 16, Sangalang 16, Reavis 11, Barroca 11, Brondial 10, Melton 9, Jalalon 4, Ramos 3, Simon 0, Gamalinda 0, Pascual 0, Abundo 0.
Blackwater 87 - Maliksi 16, Belo 16, Dario 11, Eriobu 10, Al-Hussaini 9, Tratter 8, Banal 7, Digregorio 4, Sena 3, Desiderio 3, Sumang 0, Javier 0.
Quarters: 20-20, 49-41, 68-61, 97-87
Blackwater only shot 58 percent from the foul line. Rookie big man Abu Tratter typified the Elite's struggle from the free throw line after making just 2-of-10 in the game.
Rookie Diego Dario had his first start as a pro, finishing with 11 points, four assists and a steal. He also highlighted his 11-minute exposure with a spin move over Barroca in the third period.
Magnolia vs. NLEX on April 3 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.