The Magnolia Chicken Timplado Hotshots recorded their first win at the expense of the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters, 108-95, in the ongoing 2023 PBA Governors' Cup on Friday, February 10.
Aside from their early two-point lead, 9-7, the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters played catch up to the Magnolia Chicken Timplado Hotshots, who had extra motivation as their new import, American Antonio Hester, debuted for the team.
Antonio Hester's quick seven-point in a manner of minutes gave the Magnolia Chicken Timplado Hotshots the early lead, 14-9 before the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters had a run on their own to tie the match at 14-apiece.
Since then, the Magnolia Chicken Timplado Hotshots stepped on the pedal until the end of the match. The team showed no mercy as they built their game-high 27-point lead late in the third quarter, 87-60.
As the Magnolia Chicken Timplado Hotshots already built a significant lead and the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters struggled with their shots, Magnolia Chicken Timplado Hotshots head coach Chito Victolero gave his deep bench ample playing time.
Magnolia vs Phoenix 2023 Governors Cup Feb 10th
Antonio Hester led the Magnolia Chicken Timplado Hotshots with 28 points, 12 rebounds, and six assists while team captain Andy Mark Barroca had 19 points. Calvin Abueva had a double-double with 18 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists while Paul Lee added 14 points and five rebounds.
Jerrick Ahanmisi also played quality minutes with 12 points off the bench.
For the side of the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters, Jason Perkins led his team in a losing effort with 20 points while Larry Muyang and Tyler Tio combined for 28 points.
Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters import Du'Vaughn Maxwell was limited to 11 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists. Before their matchup against the Magnolia Chicken Timplado Hotshots, Du'Vaughn Maxwell was averaging 26 points, 14.4 rebounds, and 4.8 assists.
With the win, the Magnolia Chicken Timplado Hotshots improved to a 1-3 win-loss record while the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters slid down to 1-5.
PBA Recap: Magnolia Completely Dominates Phoenix
The Magnolia Chicken Timplado Hotshots completely dominated the statistics against the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters. The team had a 48% field goal efficiency compared to their opponent's 41%.
The Magnolia Chicken Timplado Hotshots also had a 52% two-point field goal efficiency in 23 out of 44 attempts and 44% three-point field goal efficiency in 15 out of 34 attempts. In comparison, the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters had 43% two-point field goal efficiency in 16 out of 37 attempts and 40% in 18 out of 26 attempts.
The paint was also dominated by the Magnolia Chicken Timplado Hotshots with 42 points in the paint compared to just 26 of the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters. They also capitalized on Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters's 19 turnovers, converting it to 18 points.
The bench players of the Magnolia Chicken Timplado Hotshots played quality minutes with 44 combined points, compared to just 30 of the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters.
The Magnolia Chicken Timplado Hotshots also rotated the wall very well with 29 assists, compared to just 20 of the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters. They also had nine big steals compared to just two of their opponents.
Fortunately, the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters managed to dominate the rebounding department with 46 compared to just 42 of the Magnolia Chicken Timplado Hotshots. They also limited their personal fouls at 19, compared to 22 of their opponents.
Still, it was not enough for the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters and its new head coach Jamike Jarin.
Player Highlight: Paul Lee Dedicates Magnolia's First Win to Late Team Member
As the Magnolia Chicken Timplado Hotshots recorded their first-ever win this year, star player Paul Lee dedicated it to their utility staffer Tembot "Bot" Del Rosario, who passed away two weeks ago due to complications brought by pneumonia. He was just 37 years old.
Aside from being a member of the staff of the Magnolia Chicken Timplado Hotshots, Tembot Del Rosario was also a good friend of Paul Lee outside the court.
"This was for him." Paul Lee said in Tagalog after their first-ever victory at the expense of the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters. In fact, Paul Lee wrote in his shoes the phrase, "Love You Bot."
A few years ago, Tembot inherited the job of his father, long-time Magnolia Chicken Timplado Hotshots Tembong Del Rosario, who had to quit because of an illness.
"He replaced his father, that's why I was with him every time I have my shooting workout in the morning. We were together first thing in the morning."
As much as they were close back then, their friendship grew during the Pandemic since Tembot Del Rosario helped Paul Lee in his daily workouts.
"I was conditioning myself during the pandemic, and he always visited me. That's where our friendship began. He would accompany me half of the day, every day."
Now, regardless of if they win or not, Paul Lee made a promise to honor his friend's memory by wearing the sneakers every gameday.
Coach's Corner: Chito Victolero Found Medicine in Antonio Hester
Like a doctor's prescription, Magnolia Chicken Timplado Hotshots head coach Chito Victolero confidently said that their new import, Antonio Hester, might be what they need to properly play in the ongoing PBA Governors' Cup.
The American Antonio Hester is not new in the Philippines as he previously played for the Terrafirma Dyip in the 2021 PBA Governors' Cup. After that, he joined the Zamboanga Valientes in the ASEAN Basketball League.
"We changed a lot of our movements especially offensively because, without Ian [Sanggalang], we don't have any post threat. [Antonio Hester] opens up the floor and gives chances to our guards to get their shot," head coach Chito Victolero said after their first victory.
"The locals are playing well right now. Although we lost our last three games, they played well. We just need a game-changer like Hester right here, who can turn things around for us."
Meanwhile, for Antonio Hester, getting a call from another PBA was far from his mind until the Magnolia Chicken Timplado Hotshots offered to get his services.
A year ago, Antonio Hester watched a game of his former team, the Terrafirma Dyip, in the Philippine Arena. As much as he wanted to play again for any PBA team, it was far from his imagination that the chance to suit up again in Asia's oldest pay-for-play league would happen.
"To be honest, that wasn't my mindset. I was here in Manila, we had some time off after a Singapore and Indonesia trip. I just decided to come and watch the game. The guys at Terrafirma, are my brothers at the end of the day. I just came to show up.", he said.
"I'm still trying to take it in. I'm very, very thankful to be here and have this opportunity. I was excited because I know the kind of shooters they have on the team. I'm a pass-first guy. Knowing this team, I lit up with joy.
"I'm here ready to help them and do my best. They told me to just be me and enjoy the game."
The Magnolia Chicken Timplado Hotshots will next face the NLEX Road Warriors on Thursday, February 16, while the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters will try to arrest their losing streak against the Terrafirma Dyip on Saturday, February 18.