2013 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Roundup: March 27-31, 2013

Alaska and Rain or Shine remained firmly entrenched on top of the heap with wins this past Holy Week. Meanwhile, Meralco remained in the middle of the pack even as Barako Bull put themselves in a prime spot to contend for one of the bottom Playoff spots in the 2013 Commish Cup.

In Holy Wednesday’s curtain-raiser, Meralco beat GlobalPort, 103-92, with Eric Dawson pumping in 14 of his team's 32 points in the final canto. He also collected 13 rebounds, had 5 assists, and 2 steals. No wonder he was the NBA D-League's Impact Player of the Year in the 2011-2012 season. The biggest takeaway from this game, however, was the 30-point outing of Mac Cardona. Captain Hook shot 10-of-14 from the floor, including making all three of his triples, to spur the Bolts to a .500 record. If his resurgence lasts for more than a couple of games, then the Bolts could be dark horses for a deep Playoff run.

In the meantime, it's official -- the Batang Pier are the bring-up-the-rear team of the PBA. Sol Mercado's playmaking has gone south, Willie Miller's offense is on hiatus, and Japeth Aguilar just isn't productive alongside Sylvester Morgan. Call it quits and then on to the next conference?

In the last PBA game before the Biyernes Santo break, Alaska defeated Petron, 92-84.  If you watched this game, then you have got to love the heart of former San Sebastian Staglet and UE Red Warrior Raphy Reyes. Here's a guy who sat on the bench for long stretches early this season, watching JV Casio orchestrate the offense. Now that Casio continues to sit out because of his injury, Reyes has seized the chance to strut his stuff. Against Petron, the scrappy guard scored 11 points and scattered 3 assists with no turnovers. Hardly stratospheric numbers, but for someone like Reyes, those already indicate a meteoric rise. French-American Rob Dozier was mighty impressive here, too. After Alaska's big loss to San Mig Coffee last weekend, Dozier dominated in the fourth period, scoring 16 of his 32 points to stave off the late challenge by the Boosters. He also grabbed 18 rebounds, had 4 assists and 2 blocks as the Aces regained the top spot ahead of the Elasto-Painters.

Petron, meanwhile, just cannot catch a break with its imports. Renaldo Balkman was awesome on the court, but was more volatile than an active volcano. Now they have Rodney White, who's pretty tame both off and on the court. White shot just 1-of-9 from the floor in 21 minutes of action.

Raphy Reyes has been stepping up in the
absence of JV Casio.

In Easter Sunday’s opener, Rain or Shine overcame Air21, 94-83, as Jeff Chan seemed to have broken out of his funk. He shot 5-of-9 from the field to finish with 16 points. A point of improvement, though, could be his FT shooting. He also shot just 5-of-9 from the line. The win was far from perfect, though. ROS import Bruno Sundov's foul blues plagued him as he sat out most of the second half after getting his fourth and fifth fouls early in the third quarter. This left coach Yeng Guiao shaking his head, naturally.

On the other end of the floor, Mike Dunigan was a monster in the first three periods, compiling 31 points. And then the fourth quarter happened. The former University of Oregon standout produced just 3 points in the last 12 minutes thanks to great interior D by ROS.

Lastly, it seems the Barako Bull Energy Cola really took Easter’s theme of resurrection to hear after they won over San Mig Coffee, 105-100. Just like Chan, it seems like Josh Urbiztondo may have broken out of his slump, too. He shot 8-of-13 from the field, including 4-of-7 from rainbow country, to finish with 22 points. Now if he can just cut down on the TOs (six in this game).

With this loss, the Mixers fell to 5-6. In one weird second half sequence, SMC playmaker Mark Barroca was handed a technical foul after game officials noticed he was wearing an Alex Mallari jersey. Barroca had to be subbed out and he rushed back to the locker room to get the correct uniform. Is Barroca ready to admit he's Mallari's biggest fan now? In contrast, James Yap, in the midst of his very public private troubles, still managed to do well here. Big Game James netted 22 points on 9 of 19 FG shooting to go along with 7 rebounds and 3 assists. Too bad the Mixers lost in the end.

Game Recaps:
The real Mac Cardona finally showed up for Meralco.

The missing link for his team in the past two games, Cardona scored 30 points to help the Meralco Bolts come away with a 103-92 triumph over the slumping GlobalPort Batang Pier Wednesday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

The victory snapped the Bolts’ two-game Commissioner’s Cup losing streak, while sending the Batang Pier to their eighth straight defeat.

“I just told him don’t do things outside of his comfort level,” said Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio of Cardona, Meralco’s top gun who averaged just 2.5 points over the past couple of outings.

“Just play with so much fun and things will fall at a proper place.”

Cardona’s breakout game helped the Bolts to a 5-5 win-loss record, forging a five-way logjam at fourth to eighth places alongside Air 21, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, San Mig Coffee, and Talk ‘N Text.

Import Eric Dawson finished with 37 points and 13 rebounds.

But his fine outing was marred by a verbal tussle with GlobalPort coach Junel Baculi after the final buzzer.

“I told him to calm down because he’s a good example to his fellow players and the viewing public,” said Gregorio, before adding, “and a lot of imports are self-destructing so don’t be part of the statistics.”

Leading most of the way, the Bolts saw their lead sliced to only four points, 69-65, late in the third period.

But Dawson scored 14 of his team’s 32 fourth-quarter points as the Bolts finally put away cellar-dwelling the Batang Pier, whose record fell to 2-9.

MER 103 – Dawson 37, Cardona 30, Hodge 11, Timberlake 10, Salvacion 5, Reyes 4, Hugnatan 4, Vanlandingham 2, Ross 0, Buenafe 0.
GLO 92 – David 29, Morgan 22, Mercado 11, Yee 10, Miller 7, Aguilar 5, Mandani 4, Salvador 2, Antonio 2, Belencion 0, Aljamal 0.
QS: 21-19, 48-41, 71-65, 103-92

GlobalPort's braintrust doesn't look too happy.

Mac Cardona seems to have rediscovered his
fine form against the Batang Pier.

ALASKA over PETRON, 92-84
Robert Dozier scored 12 of his 32 points in the closing minutes to carry Alaska against Petron Blaze, 92-84, in PBA Commissioner’s Cup action Wednesday night at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

The Aces reinforcement added 18 rebounds and two blocks, dominating against a Boosters squad that played most of the second half without struggling import Rodney White, who scored just two points on 1-of-9 shooting from the field.

“Robert Dozier is very underrated,” said Alaska coach Luigi Trillo, who noted the Dozier had also shut down other top wing imports such as Renaldo Balkman and Walter Sharpe.

Dozier scored 16 points in the fourth quarter, carrying the offensive load for the Aces, who took back first place in the standings with an 8-3 win-loss record.

Three other Alaska players also finished with 11 points apiece: rookie Raphy Reyes, Cyrus Baguio and Dondon Hontiveros.

It was a career-high output for Reyes, a third-string guard who stepped up in the absence of starter JVee Casio.

Petron, which lost its second straight for a 6-4 record, was led by Marcio Lassiter and Jay Washington, who scored 24 and 22 points, respectively.

ALA 92 – Dozier 32, Reyes 11, Baguio 11, Hontiveros 11, Abueva 6, Dela Cruz 6, Jazul 5, Espinas 5, Belasco 5, Eman 0.
PET 84 – Lassiter 24, Washington 22, Cabagnot 11, Fajardo 10, Miranda 8, Santos 7, White 2, Lanete 0, Tubid 0, Pena 0.
QS: 19-23, 40-36, 71-65, 92-84

Marcio Lassiter broke out against the Aces.

RAIN OR SHINE over AIR21, 94-83
The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters bucked foul trouble for import Bruno Sundov for a convincing 94-83 victory over the Air 21 Express on Easter Sunday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

The victory gave Rain or Shine a share of the Commissioner’s Cup top spot along with Alaska with an 8-3 win-loss record, while snapping Air 21′s four-game winning run. The Express saw their record fall to 5-6.

Sundov rode the bench for most of the second half after committing his fourth and fifth fouls in quick succession in the third period. But Rain or Shine put the clamps on Air 21 import Michael Dunigan, who scored just three points in the fourth period after rampaging for 31 in the first three quarters.

“I was a little worried when Bruno fell into the same pattern of fouling early. We had to sit him on the bench for a long period of time,” said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao.

“We thought it would be difficult to match up with their import, but the locals held their own. We defended the import well by helping each other out and by the time Bruno came back, we were in control already.”

Rain or Shine unleashed a telling 14-0 run to break a 68-all standoff, sealed by Ryan Araña’s basket with 5:47 left in the game.

Sundov carried Rain or Shine in the first half, where he scored 18 points including a stretch of three straight three-pointers. The 7-foot-3 behemoth finished with 23 points.

Jeff Chan and Ryan Arana contributed 16 and 13 points, respectively for the Ealsto Painters.

ROS 94 – Sundov 23, Chan 16, Arana 13, Tiu 8, Cruz 8, Rodriguez 8, Lee 7, Quinahan 5, Norwood 2, Belga 2, Ibanes 2, Matias 0, Jaime 0, Tang 0.
AIR 83 – Dunigan 34, Canaleta 12, Menor 7, Omolon 7, Cortez 6, Arboleda 5, Wilson 4, Ritualo 4, Sena 2, Isip 2, Baclao 0, Custodio 0.
QS: 18-18, 45-38, 63-64, 94-83

The winning run of Air21 and Mike Cortez
was halted by Rain or Shine.

Gabe Norwood rises for the transition lay-up.

Barako Bull snapped its six-game losing streak, but not before nearly squandering a 13-point lead late in the fourth quarter to survive San Mig Coffee, 105-100, in PBA Commissioner’s Cup action on Easter Sunday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

With three minutes left in the game, Barako Bull still led 98-85. But San Mig Coffee came roaring back, cutting the lead to just two points, 102-100, with 24 seconds left.

San Mig Coffee sent Barako Bull rookie Emman Monfort, playing in his first PBA game, to the line. The former Ateneo guard split his free throws, giving the Mixers a chance to tie the game with still 19 seconds left.

But Denzel Bowles lost the ball in the ensuing possession, and a couple of free throws from Josh Urbiztondo and Sean Anthony sealed the game for Barako Bull.

With the victory, Barako Bull improved its record to 4-7.

“Barako Bull is a good team, we were just unlucky,” said Barako Bull team consultant Rajko Toroman.

“But this team knows how to play good basketball.”

Urbiztondo once again led the charge for his former team with 22 points. Import Evan Brock scored 25 points, while Mick Pennisi posted 13 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter to key Barako Bull’s breakaway.

“Everything was close the last five games, and I can understand the players’ frustration. Our goal was to show to everyone that we’re a very competitive team,” said Barako Bull coaching consultant Rajko Toroman.

“Our chances have become bigger now going to our last three games where we play Petron, GlobalPort, and Rain or Shine.”

San Mig Coffee’s record fell to 5-6.

BAR 105 – Brock 25, Urbiztondo 22, Maliksi 19, Pennisi 19, Seigle 10, Vilanueva 4, Monfort 3, Kramer 2, Anthony 1, Intal 0, Macapagal 0.
SMC 100 – Bowles 24, Yap 22, Simon 21, Barroca 11, Pingris 9, Mallari 5, Devance 4, Najorda 4, Reavis 0, De Ocampo 0.
QS: 24-30, 46-46, 68-75, 105-100

James Yap tests the D of Mark Macapagal.

Josh Urbiztondo caught fire against San Mig Coffee.

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 Mark Dimo Dimalanta) 
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