Magnolia Hotshots’ Paul Lee scores at the buzzer to tie the PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinal against Barangay Ginebra

MAGNOLIA – This looks like it could go down as one of the best Manila Clasico playoff series of all time.

It was a wild finish in Game 2 of this 2022 PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinal series on Friday. Two days after Barangay Ginebra escaped with a close 87-84 victory in Game 1, it was another wild finish in Game 2 of this series when Paul Lee hit a close bank shot right at the buzzer to give Magnolia Hotshots a thrilling 96-95 victory.

A few moments earlier, Ginebra’s Stanley Pringle had calmly sank a triple to give his team a 95-94 lead with just 5.1 seconds left on the clock. After the Hotshots challenged for additional time, Calvin Abueva inbounded the ball to Lee, who then almost gave the ball away by making an awful pass to Abueva.

But the basketball gods were smiling on Magnolia on this day as the ball miraculously found its way back into the hands of Lee, who was all set up for the game-winning jumper. Magnolia went on to win the game.

The following are three thoughts regarding the game:

A blown play, the game-winning shot

As soon as Lee tried to make a difficult pass to Abueva, it was clear that they were going to turn the ball over. Although Japeth Aguilar managed to get a hand on the ball, he was unable to keep hold of it. Everyone in the vicinity of the ball went for the ball, but it was Lee who scooped it up and calmly sank the game-winning shot. Everyone else in the proximity of the ball went for the ball. After that, he bolted to the opposite end of the court, where his colleagues gave chase to him as if he were the Pied Piper.

Lee, who put both hands on his head when he entered the press room for the post-game interview, appeared to be in a state of continued astonishment at what had taken place. He was overheard making a comment about Aguilar’s long arms, and he enquired about the event’s authenticity. He questioned, “The ball made its way back to me, right?” “Wow, that was a huge deal. That was a major point.

After he had regained his composure, Lee stated in Tagalog, “I just concentrated on my shot.” “I didn’t give any more thought to the amount of time that was remaining. It would not have been a decent shot if I had been rushing to take it because I was worried about the time. In the event that the shot clock ran out, the game was over. I can only give thanks to God that I was able to fire a decent shot at the right time.

“I’m still in shock,” remarked Chito Victolero, the coach of the Hotshots. “I am aware that Paul was the intended target of the play, but it was sheer good fortune that the ball found its way to him.”

It was God’s will that it happen. The hand of God was behind it. I am aware that Paul is our “Lee-thal Weapon,” but God was ultimately responsible for that victory. And the men earned it because we put in a lot of work and spent a lot of time getting ready. It was all about how things were carried out. They executed in the first game, and so did we in the current game. It was one of those time-honored games. This is the reason why it is known as the Manila Clasico.

Additionally, Victolero attributed the victory to a longtime supporter of the squad. Our deepest condolences go out to Jay Marcelo, who was a dedicated supporter of our cause. A short while ago, he passed away.”

The resurgence of Brownlee

After being limited to just 11 points on seven attempts in Game 1, Barangay Ginebra import Justin Brownlee was able to return to his normal scoring ways in Game 2.

This time around, the freshly naturalized player for Gilas Pilipinas attempted 20 shots and finished with 34 points on 13-of-20 shooting. He shot 15 points in the first quarter alone, which moved him ahead of his total from Game 1 immediately.

Brownlee quickly put an end to any rumors that he was trying to hide an injury in Game 2, when he attempted 16 two-point shots while taking only four shots from beyond the arc, despite the fact that online rumors had suggested that he took just one two-point shot and was content to hoist it from the outside in Game 1.

The Playoff Clasico features two equally matched teams.

Since the inaugural season of the Manila Clasico in 1988, the Magnolia franchise has held a general advantage in the head-to-head competition, with a score of 107-97 in their favor.

Games for elimination, the playoffs, and the championship are included here. However, when it comes to head-to-head matchups in the playoffs and finals, including this game, both teams are tied for first place in terms of the number of games and series they have won.

Only twice, in 1988 and 1997, have these two teams met in the PBA Finals, and each time, they have emerged victorious. They are now tied at 5-5 in the championship games. In the playoffs leading up to the finals, they have faced each other in a total of 12 series, and again, they have split evenly with six series wins apiece. And when it comes to wins in the postseason, it’s once again even at 18 wins apiece for both teams.

That is one fierce competition right there.

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