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Magnolia nips SMB, but falls short of best-of-three series spot

Magnolia nips SMB, but falls short of best-of-three series spot

MAGNOLIA defeated San Miguel, 101-97, on Saturday at the close of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup elimination round at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

The Hotshots improved their record to 6-5, but the win was not enough to get them to a higher seed as they failed to meet the required winning margin that would have given them the sixth seed in the quarterfinals.

Magnolia needed a winning margin of 14 points or more in order to get the sixth seed.

Instead, Magnolia dropped to No. 7, with the Hotshots needing to win twice over second seed Alaska in the quarterfinals.

Even with the defeat, San Miguel goes to No. 6 and will play a best-of-three quarterfinal series against TNT, while Barangay Ginebra is set at No. 5 and will take on fourth-ranked Meralco in another best-of-three affair.

Despite not getting the higher seed, Magnolia coach Chito Victolero was happy to finish the elimination round with a victory over the reigning champion.

“Going into the playoffs, it’s a good game for us. A good victory for us. We know na it’s not easy to go to the playoffs. Maraming challenges, import changes, injuries. Now, I think maganda ‘yung last two games namin, nakuha namin ‘yung character namin,” said Victolero.

Wayne Chism had 21 points and 14 rebounds, while Paul Lee had 14 points. Ian Sangalang added 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Hotshots.

Robbie Herndon had 10 points including two triples in a 10-4 run that gave the Hotshots a 90-82 lead early in the fourth quarter. It was the closest Magnolia was in getting the required winning margin to get the sixth-seed.

Still, Magnolia finished the elimination round with back-to-back wins heading into the playoff series with the Aces.

The loss spoiled Renaldo Balkman’s 31-point, eight-rebound effort for the Beermen.