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    Magnolia stuns Ginebra, takes PBA semis opener

    MANILA, Philippines – “It’s not how you start but it’s how you finish.” Downed by a dozen in the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup semis opener, the Magnolia Hotshots through the humongous efforts of Romeo Travis and Paul Lee made a thrilling scoring run and took away Game 1 from Barangay Ginebra with a 106-98 win on Saturday, November 10, 2018 at Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

    If there’s one PBA game that will never get old, it will be the undisputed Barangay Ginebra vs. Magnolia Hotshots or most popularly known as Manila Clasico.

    Romeo Travis registered his conference high of 37 points to capture Game 1
    Romeo Travis registered his conference high of 37 points to capture Game 1 of the best-of-five Manila Clasico semi-finals | Photo Credit: pba.ph

    The first semis series of this conference playoffs didn’t fail to amaze the crowd and made the fans realize that this game is really worth their money. Who wouldn’t be excited if the gameball started with a three consecutive slam dunks from Japeth Aguilar and Justin Brownlee?

    The Hotshots feared Barangay’s twin tower of Japeth Aguilar and Greg Slaughter but on the other hand, Ginebra is really anxious of Magnolia’s backcourt tandem of Paul Lee and Jio Jalalon that makes this game more interesting.

    What’s more exciting than a series of thunderous slamma jamma from the Gins? Well, it’s Brownlee putting up a dozen point under his name with over 5 minutes left in the opening salvo.

    Justin Brownlee’s unbelievable performance with 20 points put his team ahead of Magnolia, 39-31 after the first 12 minutes of fascinating basketball.

    There’s no doubt that Brownlee is a prolific scorer and so does Lebron James’ longtime pal, Hotshot Romeo Travis who along with Paul Lee made a shocking run to steal the lead from the Gins at the start of the 2nd quarter.

    It seemed that Ginebra ran out of luck after dominating Magnolia in the opener. 6 Minutes had gone by and the Gins had only scored 3 points while the Hotshots dropped 19 on them.

    At the half, Magnolia managed to preserve its lead, 63-55 with Travis and Lee leading the way with 16 apiece.

    Ginebra attempted to match Magnolia’s tenacity as they began the 3rd quarter. The only problem was, Justin Brownlee missed most of his shots compared to his outstanding 1st period performance.

    The Gins were not able to use their height advantage as the Hotshots kept on denying and even blocking Greg Slaughter’s shots underneath the basket.

    As the 3rd period expired, Magnolia held onto its double-digit lead, 83-73.

    Even though his team was down by 10 entering the fourth, Coach Tim Cone didn’t pressed the panic button. Instead, he instructed his wards to keep attacking the rim. That’s what the Gins exactly did that gave them the opportunity to cut the deficit to just 6.

    Romeo Travis reached a PBA milestone tonight as he hit his conference high with 37 points and with 4 more minutes to go.

    Despite Travis’ stats, Coach Chito Victolero was still worried about Ginebra as Coach Cone picked up his “magic bunot” in Jeff Chan who rallied late and brought the lead to just 2 points.

    Paul Lee’s reinsertion in the final minutes of the game eased Coach Victolero’s anxiety as he orchestrated a handful of plays that were all converted into crucial points for Magnolia and gave them a well-deserved 106-98 Game 1 win.

    Both teams have couple of days to re-group and re-condition themselves for the Game 2 slugfest on Monday, November 12, 2018 at 7 pm.

    — Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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