Paul Lee’s hot shooting hands from the last All-Stars game has not cooled down one bit and Magnolia Ang Pambansang Manok hit its immediate goal.
Lee scored 18 of his 26 points in the first half, pointing the Hotshots to a 102-74 victory over NLEX Wednesday and into sixth place at the end of its PBA Philippine Cup eliminations campaign at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Mark Barroca led the other Magnolia players who did their part and ensured the team’s sixth win in 11 games that put it in a much-anticipated best-of-three quarterfinals duel with third-seed Ginebra, instead of a twice-to-win handicap due to a No. 7 ranking had it lost.
After absorbing its seventh loss against four wins and a tie with Alaska, NLEX was left on pins and needles while awaiting the outcome of the Ginebra-NorthPort game later in the evening.
Most of the credit for Magnolia avoiding a seventh-place finish and having a win-twice handicap against second-ranked Rain or Shine goes to Lee, who scored all of his 27 points in the last North-South game from beyond the arc.