2013 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Roundup: February 23-24, 2013

The undefeated Alaska Aces remained immaculate and stayed on top of the heap, while the Meralco Bolts and San mig Coffee Mixers upset their more fancied foes this past weekend in the 2013 PBA Commish Cup.

In the weekend’s lone out-of-town match, Alaska's defense was awesome when the game was getting a little too close for comfort. The Aces held Ginebra to just 30 points in the second half, including allowing the Kings to make only 1 field goal in the last four minutes of the game. Kudos to coach Luigi Trillo for engineering effective two-way basketball! In the meantime, Ginebra’s new import, Vernon Macklin, wasn't exactly crackin' in his debut. The newly-minted replacement for Herbert Hill missed his first seven from the floor and never really got anything going when the Kings needed someone to carry them. Save for the obligatory slamma jammers, of course.

The Aces’ frontline, in contrast, remains to be one of the tallest, and best, in town. Prior to this game, Robert Dozier and Sonny Thoss averaged a combined 32.6ppg and 18.7rpg. Dozier, not surprisingly, deserves a lion's share of the credit for that, but Thoss seems to have adjusted well to the role of NOT being Alaska's primary slotman. He tossed in 16 markers (7-of-8 FG shooting) to go along with 5 caroms for the Aces in this one, while Dozier himself scored 21 points and grabbed 11 boards.

In yesterday’s first game, Meralco import Eric Dawson thoroughly outplayed his counterpart, Justin Williams. Dawson registered 19 points, 17 rebounds, 4 steals, and 3 blocks to lead the Bolts in their stirring comeback victory, while Williams had just 5 points and 13 boards, though he did block 8 shots. Dawson will have to be more efficient, though, as he shot just 6 out of 20 from the floor.

With only a few minutes to go and all their cylinders clicking, the Batang Pier seemed to have this one in the bag, until they failed to convert inside the last minute and the Bolts just pulled the rug from under them. It's also worth noting that Global had more turnovers and missed more shots down the stretch.

The pivotal element in Meralco’s big win, of course, was the Sunday Special – Sunday Salvacion. Salvacion capped off one if his best games in recent memory with the game-winning off-the-board three that beat the buzzer and the Batang Pier. That's a mouthful, I know, but it's worth saying/writing simply because Sunday's shot was out-of-this-world. It came off a play that seemed headed nowhere fast – Chris Ross kicked out the ball to Mac Cardona, who drove and got caught in the key till Sunday flashed behind him for the marginal basket. That was Salvacion's SIXTH three of the game. Prior to this playdate, the former CSB Blazer hadn't played a minute of 2013 Commish Cup basketball.

In yesterday’s nightcap, the SMC Mixers stepped up big time to beat the Tropang Texters. SMC’s locals probably took Marc Pingris' comments to heart, and it showed on the stat-sheet. PJ Simon, Pingris, Joe Devance, and Mark Barroca all combined for 45 points, 15 rebounds, 12 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocks to backstop Denzel Bowles' monster-like numbers. They also shot 17-of-30 (57%) from the two-point range to underscore their offensive efficiency. In contrast, Gilas call-ups Kelly Williams, Jared Dillinger, Ranidel De Ocampo, and Larry Fonacier put up subpar numbers for TNT. That quartet registered only 15 points on 6-of-26 FG shooting.

Oh, and did I mention that Monster Bowles made an appearance? Prior to this game, it seemed like the difference between Denzel Bowles and TNT import Keith Benson was night and day. That eventually became true, but completely opposite to what was expected. Benson did well with 16 points and 17 rebounds, but Bowles was EVEN BETTER with 29 points, TWENTY THREE boards, and 3 blocks. He. Is. Back.

Denzel Bowles was his old monster self as the
Mixers subdued the Texters.

Game Recaps:

Even a trip to Mindanao couldn’t change the fortunes of either Alaska or Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.

The Aces won their fourth straight game, defeating the Gin Kings, 84-69, Saturday at the Mindanao Convention Center in Tubod, Lanao del Norte.

Taking advantage of a Ginebra squad bringing in new import Vernon Macklin, Alaska raced to a double-digit advantage early in the second quarter.

But inspired by the energetic Macklin, who had several rim-rattling dunks, Ginebra rallied to close the gap at the half, 43-39.

The early second half was a nip-and-tuck affair, before Alaska went on a 13-5 run to bridge the third and fourth quarters to take a 67-57 lead with over eight minutes left in the game. Ginebra could not come closer than eight points the rest of the way, sliding down to the bottom of the team standings with their fourth straight loss.

Robert Dozier led all scorers with 21 points, while Sonny Thoss added 16 points and five rebounds for Alaska. Mark Caguioa had 20 points to lead Ginebra, while Macklin scored 16 points in his first outing after replacing Herbert Hill. The new Ginebra import also grabbed 20 rebounds, but shot just 2-of-9 from the free throw line.

ALA 84 – Dozier 21, Thoss 16, Espinas 10, Jazul 9, Hontiveros 8, Baguio 8, Abueva 6, Casio 4, Dela Cruz 2, Reyes 0.
GIN 69 – Caguioa 20, Macklin 16, Tenorio 8, Ellis 7, Raymundo 6, Mamaril 4, Helterbrand 4, Hatfield 2, Labagala 2, Taha 0, Labagala 0, Baracael 0, Jensen 0.
QS: 23-17, 43-39, 61-54, 84-69


Sunday Salvacion banked in a three-pointer at the buzzer to give Meralco a thrilling 90-89 victory over GlobalPort Sunday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

“Nakita ko wala nang time eh, thank God pumasok,” he said after the game.

The basket, Salvacion’s sixth three-pointer of the evening, capped a wild finish by the Bolts that saw them come back from a 12-point fourth quarter deficit.

“For anyone doubting there’s no God, there’s one after a shot like that,” said Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio. “Sunday hasn’t played in three games, but that’s what veterans do. They come in and play.”

GlobalPort looked like it had the game in control after taking an 80-68 lead early in the fourth quarter on a three-pointer by Gary David, who led all scorers with 27 points.

The Batang Pier were still up by eight points, 89-81, before a three-pointer by Salvacion, who finished with 20 points, kicked off a game-ending 9-0 blast by the Bolts.

Import Eric Dawson had 19 points for Meralco, which had lost three straight matches coming into the game, while Cliff Hodge and Mac Cardona added 16 and 15 points, respectively.

“We need to win like this to unite our team,” added Gregorio.”We need this to love one another. It was like a Hollywood script, we came back from a big lead, but we found ways to win.”

Willie Miller played his best game of the tournament so far, finishing with 22 points. Former Meralco star Sol Mercado was held to just six points in his first matchup with his old squad. But another former Bolt, rookie Jaypee Belencion who was a throw-in in the Mercado trade, came off the bench for a career-high 15-point explosion.

Meralco’s win-loss record improved to 2-3, tying the Batang Pier in the standings.

MER 90 – Salvacion 20, Dawson 19, Hodge 16, Cardona 15, Hugnatan 7, Manuel 4, Buenafe 4, Guevarra 3, Ross 2, Reyes 0, Artadi 0.
GLO 89 – David 27, Miller 22, Belencion 15, Aguilar 12, Mercado 6, Williams 5, Mandani 2, Yee 0, Salvador 0, Crisano 0.
QS: 17-24, 43-48, 66-67, 90-89

Sunday Salvacion's Game-winner:

Japeth Aguilar slams one home against the Bolts!

Eric Dawson was the better import in
Meralco's win over Global Port.

The Meralco Bolts dogpile on Sunday Salvacion after he hit
the game-winning trey at the buzzer!


Monster Bowles is back.

After a subpar outing in his return match last Friday against Rain or Shine where he scored just 12 points, the reigning Commissioner’s Cup Best Import rebounded with a dominant performance to carry the San Mig Coffee Mixers to their first victory in the tournament, a 90-82 win over the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters.

In a rematch of last year’s finals protagonists, Bowles shone brightest, finishing with 29 points and 23 rebounds against the same team he defeated for the championship a season ago.

He scored 14 points in the fourth quarter — the same total as the Tropang Texters — as the defending champions finally broke through after three losses to open the tournament.

Bowles’ performance made up for the subpar game of Mixers top gun James Yap, who scored just six points in 17 minutes after struggling with foul trouble all game.

“But we were inspired by Denzel. He was a key for us, especially with James (Yap) in foul trouble,” said San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone.

The San Mig Coffee supporting crew stepped up, with Peter June Simon and Mark Barroca breaking out of their shooting slumps scoring 13 and nine points, respectively. Marc Pingris and Joe Devance added 12 and 11 for the Mixers, which held the potent Tropang Texters to below 39 percent shooting from the field.

SMC 90 – Bowles 29, Simon 13, Pingris 12, Devance 11, Barroca 9, Yap 6, Gaco 4, Najorda 2, Reavis 2, De Ocampo 2, Mallari 0.
TNT 82 – Castro 18, Benson 16, Reyes 14, Alapag 8, Al-Hussaini 7, Fonacier 6, Williams 4, Carey 4, Dillinger 3, De Ocampo 2, Aban 0.
QS: 17-17, 44-41, 63-68, 90-82

Harvey Carey and Marc Pingris battle
under the basket.

Jessica Mendoza was a beautiful distraction
at courtside.

The SMC locals really stepped up as the
Mixers beat TNT.

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 Paul Ryan Tan and Pranz Kaeno Billones) 
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