MANILA -- Since winning the Best Player of the Conference award, Paul Lee had two straight quiet outings in the PBA Governors' Cup Draft -- including Friday night's. But the last field goal he made in Game 5 was the difference.
Lee hit the game-winning jumper as Magnolia moved to within a win from its first championship in the Chito Victolero era, with a 79-78 squeaker over Alaska, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
Lee's game-winner also saved them from a couple of meltdowns in the second half.
Following a 24-12 second quarter, Magnolia appeared to be pulling away after opening a 53-40 halftime lead.
However, Alaska started the third quarter with a 18-2 run to take a 58-55 lead.
The Hotshots recovered with a 10-4 run to end the third and were on poise again of pulling away midway in the fourth after taking a 74-66 advantage.
However, the Aces pulled another 10-0 run to give them the lead again, 76-74, with 1:15 left.
While they kept the Hotshots scoreless for four-and-a-half minutes, the Aces could not simply seal the win as they muffed two layups on a 3-on-1 fastbreak, and Lee, after grabbing the rebound, found an open Ian Sangalang for the layup that eventually became a three-point play that gave the Hotshots a 77-76 lead with 18.7 seconds remaining.
Rafi Reavis then blocked Chris Banchero's quick layup attempt only to let Mike Harris recover the ball and eventually make two free throws when he fouled him while taking a putback to give Alaska a 78-77 lead with 11.4 seconds remaining.
Romeo Travis found his layup blocked by Harris, but Lee got the loose ball and scored on a wide-open pull-up from the right side of the baseline with 1.3 seconds to go.
Harris had a chance to steal the win, but Travis' tight defense forced him to take a tough jumper from the left corner that he missed as time expired.
Lee came up with a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds alongside two assists, while Sangalang led Magnolia, which is now 3-2 up in the best-of-seven series, with 20 points, six rebounds, two assists, and one steal.
Mark Barroca chipped in 14 points, three rebounds, and three assists, while Jio Jalalon contributed 13 points, five rebounds, and one assist off the bench as the locals stepped up in a game where Travis only made 10 points on 3-of-19 shooting.
Travis, however, also tallied a double-double with 17 rebounds, as well as six dimes and one steal.
Harris put up 28 markers, 20 caroms, five assists, and one block for Alaska.
The Hotshots can clinch the title with a win during Wednesday’s Game 6 at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
Magnolia 79: Sangalang 20, Barroca 14, Jalalon 13, Lee 11, Travis 10, Herndon 6, Dela Rosa 4, Reavis 1, Melton 0, Brondial 0.
Alaska 78: Harris 28, Racal 13, Enciso 13, Pascual 6, Exciminiano 5, Cruz 4, Banchero 3, Teng 2, Manuel 2, Casio 2, Baclao 0.
Quarters: 29-28, 53-40, 65-62, 79-78 (PNA)
Photo by Tristan Tamayo/Inquirer