Magnolia continued its rise from a 0-2 start by outlasting the Phoenix Pulse Fuel Masters 99-96, Saturday night at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.
With win, the Hotshots extended its winning streak to three and moved above the .500 mark with a 3-2 card. It was also a fitting preparation for its next game which is against Philippine Cup tormentor San Miguel on Wednesday, June 26.
Paul Lee scattered 27 points spiked by 3 of 7 shooting from long distance while import James Farr contributed 26 points and 18 boards to lead Magnolia past the hard-fight Phoenix Pulse still smarting from the absence of enigmatic forward Calvin Abueva.
The Fuel Masters absorbed their 4th defeat in 6 starts and slid to 10th place in the team standings.
“Unti-unti bumabalik yung rhythm ng mga players, bumabalik yung rhythm ng team ko,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero.
“I expected this to be a dog fight, a grind out game. We knew Phoenix is a strong team,” he added.
The game also marked the return to active duty of veteran Mark Pingris after more than a year of absence due to an ACL/MCL injury which he suffered during the semifinals of last season’s Philippine Cup.
The 37-year old native of Pozorrubio, Pangasinan failed to buy a basket but was able to grab 3 rebounds in 7 minutes of action.
Mark Barroca contributed 11 points while Jio Jalalon added 10.
Richard Howell paced Phoenix with 36 points and 20 rebounds while Matthew Wright and RJ Jazul added 19 and 15 points, respectively.
Magnolia 99 – Lee 27, Farr 26, Barroca 11, Jalalon 10, Dela Rosa 8, Sangalang 8, Brondial 7, Melton 2, Pascual 0, Pingris 0, Herndon 0.
Phoenix Pulse 96 – Howell 36, Wright 19, Jazul 15, Chua 8, Marcelo 7, Mallari 6, Wilson 3, Dennison 2, Perkins 0, Kramer 0, Intal 0.
Quarterscores: 23-24, 47-45, 71-67, 99-96.