Barangay Ginebra took the fight out of Magnolia behind torrid shooting in the second quarter to register an 86-75 win and move within one victory from clinching a 2019 PBA Philippine Cup semifinals berth.
The Kings took control of Game 1 after outscoring the usually explosive Hotshots, 27-9, in the second quarter en route to a 44-27 halftime lead Saturday night.
Fourth-year wingman Art Dela Cruz provided the unlikely energy for Ginebra, firing eight of his 14 points during the pivotal second-quarter run to help the Kings take control of the best-of-three quarterfinal series.
"Such a great experience for me, especially this is Manila Clasico," Dela Cruz said during the post-game interview after being selected the Best Player of the game. "Coach just told us to always remember what Magnolia did to us in the last semis. That has somehow been imprinted our minds."
Dela Cruz was referring to Ginebra's 3-1 semifinal series loss to Magnolia in the 2018 Governors' Cup. That defeat denied the Kings a chance to win a third straight crown in the import-spiced third conference.
Ginebra bigs Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar took turns abusing Magnolia, getting the looks inside to produce their usual numbers.
The 6-foot-11 Slaughter churned out double-double numbers of 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Aguilar flirted with a tripled-double after registering 12, 11 boards and seven assists.
Scottie Thompson also had his usual all-around game after finishing with 12 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three blocks.
LA Tenorio, on the other hand, had 10 markers, seven assists, four rebounds and the same number of steals.
Ginebra's choking defense held Magnolia to just 35 percent shooting from the floor, making only 28 of its 80 attempts from the floor.
Magnolia starters Ian Sangalang, Paul Lee and Mark Barroca were not in their usual element.
The left-handed Sangalang finished with 14 points, but he only went 5-of-14 from the field. Lee led Magnolia with 15 points, but he struggled mightily from the floor, going just 4-of-10. He also made only one out of six from three-point zone, just a few days after going 6-of-9 from beyond the arc in Magnolia's 102-76 triumph over NLEX.
Barroca, meanwhile, failed to contribute on offense, finishing with a measly three points, making just one of nine shots in the game.
Ginebra 86 - Slaughter 15, Dela Cruz 14, Thompson 12, Aguilar 12, Tenorio 10, Ferrer 8, Chan 6, Mariano 4, Mercado 3, Caperal 2, Cruz 0.
Magnolia 75 - Lee 15, Sangalang 14, Brondial 11, Ramos 10, Melton 10, Dela Rosa 6, Jalalon 4, Barroca 3, Reavis 2, Pascual 0, Herndon 0, Abundo 0.
Quarters: 17-18, 44-27, 62-47, 86-75.
-Ginebra dominated every major department in Game 1. With Slaughter and Aguilar leading the way, the Kings finished Game 1 with a 58-45 advantage in rebounds.
-The Kings also repeatedly scored inside, leading to a sizeable 60-34 edge in points in the paint. Ginebra got a big lift from the bench, collecting 42 points compared to Magnolia's 31, while the league's most popular squad showed teamwork with its 24 assists.
April 8 - Game 2, 4:30PM at the Smart Araneta Coliseum