When the Hotshots with Rakocevic defeated Terrafirma, 100-92, on Wednesday in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena, any discomfort Magnolia coach Chito Victolero may be suffering was slightly lessened.

With a 45-point, 25-rebound debut that included some important baskets late in the game that allowed Magnolia to totally overcome Terrafirma’s strong defense, Nikola Rakocevic outperformed fellow import Lester Prosper.

The 24-year-old Serbian who shot 17 of 26 from the field and added two assists, as many steals, three blocks, and three blocks to his stat line was described by Victolero as “playing both ends of the floor, I mean he contributes to our defensive scheme, he contributes on our offense, very aggressive.”

Former USC Trojan Rakocevic, who most recently played in China, was quick to give gratitude to his teammates and coaches, especially Victolero, who suffered a left Achilles tendon injury last Sunday while working out.

Rakocevic added, “I’ve got a lot of talented guys around me, so it makes things a lot simpler.” I just try to play hard and support this squad in whatever way I can.

Jio Jalalon and Ian Sangalang each finished with 12 points and seven assists, and they both significantly contributed to the Magnolia locals’ successful mid-season conference campaign. Jio Jalalon also grabbed seven rebounds, while Ian Sangalang pulled down five boards and made three assists.

Paul Lee’s buzzer-beating three and Mark Barroca’s floater that started the Hotshots’ final 9-0 run that Rakocevic ended with four consecutive baskets helped the team overcome a 91-92 deficit while Calvin Abueva, who was hurt in the groin, was out.

Despite Prosper finishing with 41 points and 19 rebounds, Terrafirma’s second defeat in as many tournament games increased the franchise’s longest losing run to 18 games going back to last season.

Juami Tiongson provided strong support for Prosper, scoring 19 points overall. 16 of those points came in the second half, as the Dyip overcame a 58-73 deficit to even retake the lead, 92-91, after Prosper’s putback.

Just as in its 110-124 defeat to Converge last Friday, Terrafirma was unable to overcome its obstacles, missing all seven of its attempts and making an error in its final offensive push. (NC)

The Results with Rakocevic MVP

Rakocevic (45), Jalalon (12), Sangalang (10), Lee (9), Corpuz (9), Barroca (8), Wong (2), Dionisio (2), Dela Rosa (1), Ahanmisi(0), Mendoza(0). Magnolia (100).

Terrafirma 92: Prosper 41; Tiongson 19; Munzon 8; Cabagnot 6; Cahilig 4; Ramos 4, Camson 3, Gabayni 3, Alolino 0, Calvo 0, Mina 0, Balagasay 0.

29-26, 59-54, 80-71, 100-92,

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