2013 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Roundup: February 20-22, 2013

All the four winning teams this past week got closer to undefeated league leader Alaska. Barako Bull and Petron both climbed just half a game behind the Aces, while ROS and TNT are both tied at fourth place with 2-1 slates.

Keith Benson continued to be solid, pouring in 20 points, grabbing 19 rebounds, and blocking 5 shots as the Texters blasted the upstart Batang Pier, 99-79. He shot better than 64% from the floor and turned the ball over just once in 37 minutes. The Batang Pier, meanwhile, shot poorly from the field and weren't able to play tight enough defense on TNT. Global Port made just 2 of its 23 attempts from the great beyond and failed to capitalize on its +24 FT attempts by missing 15 freebies. Japeth Aguilar, the Texter-turned-Batang-Pier, had been playing really well so far in the tourney until TNT shut him down. Aguilar shot just 1-of-8 from the field and turned the ball over thrice. He did grab 7 boards and block 3 shots, but those weren't enough to avoid a TNT blowout.

In Wednesday’s second game, Gilas big man June Mar Fajardo delivered a Kraken-worthy double-double line -- 16 points and 12 rebounds to go along with 3 blocked shots. Needless to say, if he continues to put up these numbers, Calvin Abueva won't be an automatic for the ROY. Concurrently, Meralco's first three quarters were absolutely barf-worthy, highlighted by Eric Dawson shooting under 39% from the floor? Barf now. As bad as they played in the first three periods, however, the Bolts were still able to uncork a 17-0 blast to open the final frame. It was a good thing for Petron that Marcio Lassiter and Denok  Miranda hit just enough clutch free throws to seal the deal. Also, Meralco’s Chris Ross is NOT (yet) a closer.

Petron rookie center June Mar Fajardi shone against
the Meralco Bolts this week.

The Friday double-header welcomed JC Intal back to relevance. The Rocket scorched the Express for 16 points, including 3 triples. He also blocked 2 shots and had no turnovers in 32 minutes. His performance pretty much canceled out the production of Express ace, Niño Cañaleta. Speaking of the Express, Air21 dropped the ball in the fourth quarter, squandering an 11-point lead thanks to some not-so-ideal perimeter defense. Also, Mike Cortez with 5 turnovers? Yikes. The Cool Cat was thoroughly outplayed, especially in the final period, by Josh Urbiztondo, who might just be the league's top PG right now. Coming into this game, Urbiztondo had the fifth-best Player Efficiency rating in the league. During the first three quarters, he pretty much sucked, but he lived up to his Fireball moniker in crunch time. He ended up with 15 points, 5 dimes, and 4 thefts.

Friday’s nightcap match featured Jervy Cruz continuing his strong play from the Philippine Cup by registering 16 points and 6 rebounds in just 13 minutes. Now THAT is efficiency. He made up for Bruno Sundov's pedestrian double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds. Oh, and Chris Tiu impressed as ROS's chief playmaker with 15 points and 8 assists. The guy who didn’t impress, though, was returning import Denzel Bowles. The 2012 Commish Cup Best Import was a flop in his first game back. Clearly, he wasn't 100%, and it showed -- 4-of-12 from the field, 4-of-8 from the line, and EIGHT TURNOVERS. Maybe SMC was too quick to pull the trigger on Matt Rogers? And there doesn’t seem to be any remedy to SMC's malady -- James Yap got injured while PJ Simon, Joe Devance, and Marc Pingris combined for 10 points on 4-of-14 FG shooting. The Mixers were -19 in rebounds, -8 in assists, and turned the ball over 7 more times than ROS. They've now lost all their games by an average of nearly 16 points. SMC needs to check-in at the nearest ER. And fast.

Game Recaps:

Talk ‘N Text buckled down to work on the defensive end to score a convincing 99-79 triumph over GlobalPort in PBA Commissioner’s Cup action Wednesday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

The Tropang Texters held the Batang Pier to below 31 percent shooting from the field, making life difficult for GlobalPort gunners Gary David and Sol Mercado.

“After our last game, we were dead last in defense, so we give ourselves a good chance of winning the game by playing good defense,” said Talk ‘N Text coach Norman Black.

David scored 19 points but missed all eight of his attempts from beyond the arc. Mercado scored 14 points, but dished out just four assists after averaging 13.3 a game coming into the matchup.

Another non-factor for the Batang Pier was former Talk ‘N Text player Japeth Aguilar, who was a steady presence in GlobalPort’s first three games. Aguilar, who requested a trade from his old team prior to the start of the tournament, was held to just four points on just 1-of-8 shooting from the field.

“We started the game with a small guy defending him to keep him away from the basket,” said Black. “We started with Ryan (Reyes) on him to limit his dribbling.”

From a tight first half, the Tropang Texters unleashed a 17-8 exchange capped by a Jimmy Alapag three-pointer to give his team its first sizeable lead, 68-55, inside the four-minute mark of the third quarter.

Although GlobalPort managed to come to within six points early in the fourth period courtesy of AJ Mandani’s fastbreak layup, the Troapng Texters unloaded a 10-2 run to pull away anew, 81-67, on a putback by Al-Hussaini off a missed shot by Keith Benson with still over seven minutes left.

The Batang Pier never recovered from there.

Talk ‘N Text won its second straight game after dropping its opening assignment versus Meralco. GlobalPort’s win-loss record fell to 2-2.

TNT 99 – Benson 20, Castro 19, Alapag 15, Dillinger 14, Fonacier 13, Al-Hussaini 6, De Ocampo 4, Carey 4, Gamalinda 2, Williams 2, Raymundo 0, Reyes 0, Alvarez 0.
GLO 79 – Williams 19, David 19, Mercado 14, Yee 7, Mandani 4, Aguilar 4, Salvador 4, Adducul 4, Deutchman 2, Miller 2, Aljamal 0.
QS: 22-27, 49-45, 71-61, 99-79

Former collegiate teammates Japeth Aguilar
and Rabeh Al-Hussaini meet again.


Petron Blaze repulsed a furious fourth quarter charge from Meralco before pulling out an 88-86 victory Wednesday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

The Boosters won their third straight victory, but not before a harrowing fourth quarter that saw the Bolts cut a 22-point deficit to a single point.

“It’s an ugly win for us, but I’ll take it,” said Petron coach Olsen Racela. “Charge to experience sa akin yung mga ganitong klaseng wins, not only for me, but my team. I mentioned before that we had to go through adversities at ito yun.”

The game had been going beautifully for the Boosters in the first three quarters, taking a 76-54 lead entering the final period.

But the Petron offense stalled, with Meralco going on a 17-0 run in the first eight minutes of the final quarter.

The Boosters still led, 87-83, on two free throws by Marcio Lassiter in the final minute of the game, before Chris Ross hit a crucial three-pointer to cut the lead to a single point with less than 24 seconds left.

Denok Miranda split his free throws in the next Petron possession, giving the Bolts one last chance to tie or take the lead. Ross missed a layup in the ensuing play, but Petron import Renaldo Balkman lost the ball at the endline to give Meralco another shot.

The Bolts ran their final play for Ross, who was tasked to drive strong to the hoop. But Balkman had the presence of mind to pick him up, forcing the spitfire guard to pass to Manuel, whose desperation attempt at the buzzer hit the back iron, allowing Petron to escape despite being outscored 32-12 in the final quarter.

Balkman continued to put up fine numbers for Petron, posting 26 points and 11 rebounds, but scoring just three points in the fourth period. June Mar Fajardo added 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Boosters, whose win-loss record improved to 3-1.

Eric Dawson led Meralco with 24 points and 20 rebounds, while Ross led the Meralco comeback with 12 points, six rebounds, six assists, and three steals. The Bolts lost their third straight game after winning their opener against Talk ‘N Text.

PET 88 – Balkman 26, Fajardo 16, Miranda 11, Lassiter 9, Santos 6, Lanete 5, Yeo 5, Washington 5, Tubid 5, Pena 0.
MER 86 – Dawson 24, Cardona 13, Ross 12, Hodge 10, Manuel 9, Guevarra 8, Hugnatan 5, Buenafe 3, Reyes 2, Timberlake 0, Artadi 0.
QS: 22-17, 51-34, 76-54, 88-86

Renaldo Balkman denies Meralco's Eric Dawson.

PBA courtside reporter Erika Padilla.
Words cannot...


The Fireball waxed hottest when the game mattered most.

A non-factor for the first three quarters, Josh Urbiztondo unloaded 13 of his 15 points in the fourth period, triggering Barako Bull’s come-from-behind 91-86 triumph over Air 21 in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Friday night at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

Urbiztondo and Mick Pennisi had back-to-back three-pointers to cap a dizzying 22-4 run as Barako Bull turned an 11-point fourth quarter deficit into an 88-81 lead with less than two minutes left in the game.

“This is probably the most important win for us because we went through difficult circumstances,” said Barako Bull team consultant Rajko Toroman.

“We lost our second point guard, Jonas Villanueva because he got hurt. Josh Urbiztondo, on the other hand, didn’t play good for three quarters but started to play better in the end. Mick (Pennisi) didn’t perform good the entire game but made a crucial three-pointer. I guess the good characteristic of this team is they never quit until the end. We found a way to win this game.”

With the win, the Energy Colas climbed into a tie for second and third spots with a 3-1 win-loss record.

Urbiztondo finished with 15 points, five assists and four steals. He shot 4-of-6 from the field, including three from beyond the arc, in the fourth period.

Import Evan Brock led the Energy Colas with 23 points and 15 rebounds while JC Intal, playing his second game as a member of the Barako team, contributed 16 points.

Air 21 reinforcement Michael Dunigan posted 30 points, 19 rebounds, and two blocks for the Express, who suffered their second straight defeat after winning their opening-day assignment versus Ginebra.

BAR 91 – Brock 23, Intal 16, Urbiztondo 15, Seigle 10, Villanueva 9, Maliksi 7, Pennisi 5, Kramer 3, Allado 2, Macapagal 1, Weinstein 0.
AIR 86 – Dunigan 30, Canaleta 15, Cortez 14, Ritualo 7, Arboleda 6, Wilson 4, Custodio 4, Isip 4, Omolon 2, Atkins 0, Sena 0, Baclao 0, Menor 0, Reyes 0.
QS: 27-18, 46-47, 61-66, 91-86

Josh Urbiztondo sizzled anew for Barako Bull.


Prior to Rain or Shine’s showdown against San Mig Coffee, Elasto Painters coach Yeng Guiao expressed hope that returning Best Import Denzel Bowles would not be in his best shape yet for the Mixers.

Guiao got his wish Friday night, as Rain or Shine cruised to a surprisingly easy 93-65 victory over San Mig Coffee at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Bowles’ first game back.

“I got what I’m hoping for and that is for Denzel Bowles to come out not in his best shape,” said Guiao.

“He’s still not in good shape. We didn’t know the kind of game he will be playing. We assumed that he will be posting up and stepping out to make some outside shots. We tried to sag on him and even zoned up on him, but we noticed he’s still not in shape.”

Bowles finished with only 12 points and 14 rebounds in 34 minutes of play, and the sub-par showing rubbed off on the rest of the Mixers’ squad.

Peter June Simon’s offensive game was out of sync, as he scored only four points on 2-for-8 shooting. Starting point guard Mark Barroca failed to score a point and missed all four of his attempts from the field.

James Yap carried the fight for San Mig Coffee in the first half, when he scored 11 points. But he suffered an injury shortly after scoring a basket early in the third quarter, and was ineffective the rest of the way.

The Elasto Painters broke the game wide open in the third period, scoring 30 points, including a 22-10 run to take a 70-45 lead on a fastbreak basket by Jervy Cruz.

Rain or Shine pushed its lead to as high as 33 points, 92-59, on a Ronnie Matias bucket.

ROS 93 – Cruz 16, Tiu 15, Sundov 14, Rodriguez 10, Ibanes 6, Lee 5, Matias 5, Norwood 5, Tang 4, Belga 4, Quinahan 4, Arana 3, Uyloan 2, Jaime 0.
SMC 65 – Mallari 15, Yap 13, Bowles 12, Gonzales 8, Devance 4, Simon 4, Najorda 2, Pingris 2, Reavis 2, De Ocampo 2, Alvarez 1, Ponferada 0, Barroca 0, Pacana 0.
QS: 17-17, 36-31, 66-45, 93-65

Denzel Bowles (L) was bottled up by Bruno Sundov (R) and the
rest of the ROS frontline.

Source: Unless otherwise specified, game recaps were compressed and compiled from InterAKTV. (Writing credit to Rey Joble)

Images: Images are from InterAKTV and the PBA. (Photo credit to Paolo Papa, Paul Mata, and Nuki Sabio) 
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