Converge escapes Magnolia as late Hotshots fightback falls short

Jamaal Franklin took over when needed most in lifting Converge to a hard-earned 111-109 win over Magnolia and into solo leadership in the PBA Governors Cup Sunday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.

Seemingly content to be a passer in the first three quarters, Franklin scored 12 of his team-high 26 points in the final period and even capped his performance with a triple that made it 111-105, going to the last 64 seconds of play.

After Erwin McCree strung up four straight points to bring Magnolia within 109-111, Franklin almost became the goat when he issued a passing error in Converge’s last thrust.

Good thing that the FiberXers’ defense held up inside the last 10 seconds, forcing McCree to take a three-point shot which he missed and officially foiled the Hotshots’ conference debut while sealing the former’s third win in as many games.

Despite his team almost blowing as much as a 14-point lead and nearly suffering a meltdown in the endgame, Converge coach Aldin Ayo said he will not be one to punish his team.

“We cannot blame the players… kasi minadali namin ‘yung tira,” explained Ayo. “Ganu’n talaga sistema namin, eh. We’re not going to slow down. Breaks lang ng laro iyon. We just can’t turn it (off), na tipong we have to slow down.”

Instead, Ayo commended his team for not wilting when Magnolia started the game with a 10-2 lead and hanging tough in the face of the Hotshots’ pressure.

The scores:

Converge 111 – Franklin 26, Ahanmisi 22, Stockton 18, Melecio 14, Teng 11, Arana 8, Balanza 6, Tratter 4, Ambohot 2, Racal 0, Murrell 0.

Magnolia 109 – McCree 38, Lee 21, Jalalon 13, Abueva 12, Escoto 7, Ahanmisi 5, Wong 4, Dela Rosa 3, Sangalang 2, Barroca 2, Dionisio 2, Corpuz 0.

Quarterscores: 28-23, 50-47, 84-73, 111-109.

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