By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The Magnolia Hotshots were more than prepared in facing the San Miguel Beermen and their new import former NBA sniper Shabazz Muhammad during the last game of the PBA Governor’s Cup double-header Sunday special.
Paul Lee’s 26-point performance including an insane second-quarter shooting exhibition helped Magnolia crush the Beermen, 104-87, and grabbed the solo no.1 spot in the standings with an impressive 7-1 win-loss record.
The Hotshots were eager to bounce back after absorbing their only loss of the conference from the NorthPort Batang Pier during their last game.
However, the game was a see-saw affair in the first minutes when SMB’s new import Muhammad immediately dazzled the crowd with his high-flying dunks that helped boost their momentum in the first quarter.
Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero then shifted things at the start of the second half and tasked his frontcourt to give Muhammad different looks defensively.
Despite a great first-quarter start for the former Minnesota Timberwolves swingman, Muhammad took a beating against Magnolia’s defense and finished the game on an 11/38 shooting from the field with 27 points and 17 rebounds.
Meanwhile, Magnolia’s Mike Harris continued to become the silent and steady force for his team and chipped in 26 points and 13 rebounds.
The Hotshots started to pull away at the end of the second quarter and never looked back against a stacked San Miguel squad.
“Alam ko ‘yung mental toughness ng mga batang ‘to e, matagal na kaming magkakasama. I know sa practice pa lang, alam ko na sila kung papano sila maglalaro sa game, and they’re ready,” said Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero.