AFTER Mark Barroca's take-charge action in Magnolia's down-to-the-wire win over Converge last time, it's the turn of the shock troopers to lead the way.
With Ian Sangalang and Calvin Abueva still out, relief big men Jackson Corpuz and James Laput combined for 37 as the Hotshots streaked to their third straight win in the PBA on Tour at the expense of NLEX, 103-97, Saturday night at the Baliwag Star Arena in Baliwag, Bulacan.
Defensive-minded Corpuz showcased his seldom-seen offensive skills in banging in a game-high 19 points spiked by a 3-of-4 three-point shooting. He dropped 12 of his tally in the third quarter as Magnolia seized control with a 30-14 exchange.
Laput, Magnolia's 6-foot-10 "project," produced another double-double output of 18 markers and 13 rebounds en route to player of the game honors.
Second stringers Jerrick Ahanmisi (15, all via three-pointers) and Jed Mendoza (eight) also shone in Win No. 3.
Ahanmisi's fifth trey gave Magnolia a 91-78 cushion going to the last 6:48 while Mendoza's long bomb with 12 seconds left quashed NLEX's late uprising for good.
"Si coach Chito (Victolero) is a really great players' coach. He sees that we're putting in the efforts day in and day out and he's giving us the chance," said Laput.
Ben Adamos, NLEX's trade acquisition from Phoenix, hit the ground running his debut for the Road Warriors, firing 18 markers spiked by a 4-of-5 three-point shooting in the match presented by Arena Plus and sponsored by Bingo Plus.
NLEX, however, failed to end its misery in the pre-season tilt and fell to 0-3.
The Hotshots created an early 26-16 separation but the Road Warriors countered with three successive treys to make it a one-point contest after 12 minutes.
Frankie Lim's charges continued the charge in the second, outscoring Magnolia 28-19, to wrest a 53-45 margin at the halftime break.
A Corpuz-instigated third-quarter storm, however, enabled the Hotshots to regain command 75-67, never to relinquish it. (OL)
Magnolia 103 - Corpuz 19, Laput 18, Ahanmisi 15, Dela Rosa 12, Lee 12, Mendoza 8, Eriobu 7, Barroca 6, Jalalon 6, Tratter 0, Murrell 0.
NLEX 97 - Adamos 18, Trollano 15, Alas 15, Pascual 14, Fajardo 12, Rosales 8, Galanza 7, Doliguez 5, Miranda 3.
Quarterscores: 26-25, 45-53, 75-67, 103-97.