Magnolia’s Paul Lee handles the ball against TNT’s Ray Parks Jr. (PBA Images)

Magnolia frustrated league-leading TNT with its defensive effort to produce a 102-92 victory Wednesday night in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center.

The Hotshots forced the usually-efficient shooting of the Tropang Giga to go cold that resulted in an 18-point third quarter lead while preventing a meltdown when the gap narrowed to just two in the fourth quarter.

Not even a nine-day respite could hinder another strong outing for Magnolia, which put itself in good position in the race for lower spots in the eight-team quarterfinals by improving to 3-4.

Coach Chito Victolero praised his team for being able to limit TNT which is averaging a league-best 105.0 points per game by slowing the tempo given the newfound mentality Magnolia already has.

“Nasa playoff mode na kami and every game is a do-or-die for us,” said Victolero.

The Hotshots were efficient on offensive, making 52-percent of their shots.

Paul Lee dropped 27 points and Chris Banchero added 19 while Mark Barroca was one of those who epitomized Magnolia’s all-around showing with 14 points, six rebounds, seven assists and three steals.

Ian Sangalang had 15 points, including back-to-back baskets that restored Magnolia’s hold on the lead when TNT got to within 80-78 on a basket by Ray Parks Jr. with over eight minutes left in the fourth.

Barroca hit two foul shots and TNT’s Jayson Castro knocked down a three before Sangalang scored off Poy Erram in the post and another in transition for 86-81 Magnolia ahead.

As TNT’s offense couldn’t connect, Magnolia added more points to make it 93-83 with four minutes to go.

Parks dropped 29 points and Castro logged heavy minutes this time and finished with 25 points but the Tropang Giga dropped to 6-2 a day after rolling past a frustrated NorthPort Batang Pier 112-87.

But almost non-existent were RR Pogoy and Troy Rosario who combined for just 13 points on 5-of-25 shooting.

The scores:

MAGNOLIA 102 — Lee 27, Banchero 19, Sangalang 15, Barroca 14, Corpuz 8, Reavis 6, Melton 4, Jalalon 4, De la Rosa 3, Calisaan 2.

TNT 93 — Parks 29, Castro 25, Enciso 9, Erram 8, Pogoy 7, Rosario 6, De Leon 5, Montalbo 3, Reyes 0, Semerad 0, Washington 0, Vosotros 0.

Quarters: 24-25, 47-41, 74-68, 102-93.

Source: Manila Bulletin (