This marked the Hotshots’ second straight win with Hester on board, and their performance against a fatigued Ginebra side was impressive.
At the half, the Hotshots were up 59-37, and they never looked back.
This win pricked Ginebra’s bubble and handed the Gin Kings their first loss in four games in the season-ending tourney.
The Hotshots caught up with Terrafirma Dyip at seventh place with a 2-3 record.
Magnolia coach Chito Victolero attributed the victory to the team’s determination and effort in the defensive battle.
“Sabi namin let’s enjoy the defensive battle and made it sure na i-surpass namin ang effort ng Ginebra para lang magka-chance kami against a very tough team (We said let’s enjoy the defensive battle and made it sure that we will surpass Ginebra’s effort just so we can have a chance against a very tough team),” Victolero said.
Hester starred in their win as he sustained his impressive debut performance with a near triple-double showing, scoring 28 points, 18 rebounds, and nine assists.
Meanwhile, Mark Barroca, Calvin Abueva, and Paul Lee each contributed at least 18 points, providing solid backup for Hester.
The win moved Magnolia up in the standings, while Ginebra dropped from the top to fifth place, trailing Converge (5-1), TNT (5-1) and San Miguel Beer (5-1) and solo fourth-running NLEX (4-1).
Meanwhile, coach Tim Cone’s biggest fear for Barangay Ginebra came true.
The weary Kings fell prey to a highly-energized Hotshots team, absorbing its first defeat in the tournament.
It was the defending champions’ fourth game in eight days, and Cone knew that their challenging schedule would eventually catch up with them.
“The schedule just caught up to us, and I was waiting for this to happen in one of the games,” Cone said.
“We were really a tired team. You can see it in the body language, our lack of activity. We just weren’t going up and down the floor. We are not moving the ball. Ball was moving slowly. We were late in all of our rotations. It was a perfect storm. We were tired and we played a team that was desperate and has new life with an import.”
In contrast, Magnolia was a desperate team with a new import, and they played with a renewed sense of life.
The loss was significant, considering Ginebra won their first three games of the tournament.
It was also a significant defeat for the franchise, with the 30-point blowout being the most lopsided loss to their rival team since Ginebra defeated Purefoods 112-78 in the 2003 Invitationals.
Furthermore, this defeat was the worst for the franchise since Game 1 of the 2019 Governors’ Cup semifinals, where they lost to NorthPort, 90- 124.
Cone was gracious in defeat, acknowledging that he was waiting for such a loss to happen.
He explained that before the stretch started, he believed that getting a 3-1 or 2-2 record would be acceptable.
However, after achieving a 3-0 record, the team became greedy and wanted to go for a 4-0 record, which they failed to achieve.
Despite the loss, Cone remained optimistic, stating that the Kings are ready to move forward from the experience.
He underscored the importance of not using the schedule as an excuse and moving on to their next game.
As such, the team will work hard and focus on their future matches.