Magnolia taught Blackwater a neat lesson on how to find the winning line and get amply rewarded in the process Tuesday.
With their equally determined and more experienced crew getting the job done, the Hotshots overcame the Elite, 103-99, to realize a return trip to the Final Four of the PBA Governors Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Romeo Travis came up with his first PBA triple-double of 18 points, 20 rebounds and 12 assists and joined hands with his local teammates in sustaining Magnolia’s fightback from an 84-91 deficit, going to the last 6:11 of play.
Rafi Reavis, Justin Melton, Ian Sangalang, Mark Barroca and Paul Lee also made key contributions in the surge as the fourth-ranked Hotshots did not let their win-once advantage over the fifth-seeded Elite go to waste.
“It’s nice to be back in the semis,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero, who started handling the team only before last season started and now has steered it to a fifth Final Four in six conferences.
The only time Magnolia and Victolero missed out was in the last mid-season Commissioner’s Cup, when they wound up seventh and a return stint served as additional motivation which served them in good stead against a gritty Blackwater crew.
Magnolia 103 – Lee 22, Travis 18, Sangalang 18, Simon 16, Barroca 9, Melton 8, Brondial 4, Reavis 3, Dela Rosa 3, Jalalon 2.
Blackwater 99 – Walker 18, Erram 15, Zamar 13, Maliksi 12, Belo 11, Digregorio 8, Pinto 7, Sumang 7, Al-Hussaini 4, Javier 4, Jose 0.
Quarterscores: 32-22, 55-47, 76-78, 103-99.