PBA Magnolia Hotshots

FILE – Magnolia Hotshots are headed to the PBA Finals. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines–Magnolia arranged a showdown with sister team San Miguel Beer for the PBA Commissioner’s Cup title after ending the fairytale run of Phoenix, 89-79, in Game 4 of their semifinal series Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena.

The Hotshots made sure that there wouldn’t be any collapse this time as they leaned on a strong first quarter anchored by Mark Barroca before their defense prevented the Fuel Masters from completing any of their comeback tries in the second half.

Barroca finished with a conference-high 21 points as Magnolia won the best-of-five series, 3-1, to progress into the PBA Finals against the Beermen, who a few days earlier swept last season’s Commissioner’s Cup winner Barangay Ginebra in the other semis pairing.

Game 1 of the best-of-seven series will begin on Friday at the same venue. It will be the first time that the two San Miguel Corporation teams face off for the crown since the 2019 Philippine Cup which the Beermen took in seven full games.

“We didn’t expect Phoenix to make it to the Final Four, but they gave us a very, very good fight,” said coach Chito Victolero, also lauding Fuel Masters counterpart Jamike Jarin for making things difficult for the Hotshots.

Phoenix ended a campaign that saw Jarin and his mostly-young team defy preseason expectations and barge into the semis for just the third time in franchise history, but the first in a conference with imports.

Import Johnathan Williams and the likes of Jason Perkins, Tyler Tio, Javee Mocon and rookie Kenneth Tuffin had chances to win either of the first two games, but ended up seeing Magnolia getting a 2-0 series lead.

The Fuel Masters avoided a sweep in Game 3, erasing a 21-point deficit to take a 103-85 win last Sunday.

Williams had 17 points and 17 rebounds for Phoenix to finish the conference.

Magnolia vs Phoenix scores

MAGNOLIA 89—Barroca 21, Bey 20, Sangalang 12, Dionisio 8, Dela Rosa 7, Lee 6, Tratter 6, Jalalon 5, Laput 4, Reavis 0, Ahanmisi 0, Abueva 0.

PHOENIX 79—Williams 17, Garcia 15, Jazul 11, Manganti 10, Perkins 6, Alejandro 5, Tio 5, Muyang 4, Tuffin 3, Rivero 3, Soyud 0, Mocon 0, Verano 0, Camacho 0.

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Quarters: 29-16, 49-38, 70-53, 89-79.

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