2013 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Roundup: April 10-12, 2013

Alaska remained supreme at the summit of the 2013 Commish Cup standings, while Rain or Shine distanced itself from the middle of the pack. San Mig Coffee also had a big win that enabled it to catch up with Ginebra at fourth spot. The last few elims playdates are coming up as the postseason beckons in the PBA!

Calvin Abueva and the Aces continue to dominate
the competition in the Commish Cup.

This past Wednesday was opened by San Mig Coffee’s conquest of Air21, 80-66. The Mixers got a big lift from Gilas Pilipinas standout Marc Pingris, who scattered 14 points, 14 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, and 1 steal as the Express were just way off their game tonight. They shot a collective 30% from the field and were outhustled on the boards, 63-46. Mike Cortez was particularly inefficient, shooting 1-of-6 from the floor and handing out just 3 assists in 27 minutes.

There have been a few words said about both Denzel Bowles and Mike Dunigan as naturalized player prospects for Gilas Pilipinas, but the better one tonight was surely Bowles. He finished with 29 points and 16 rebounds in another herculean performance, while Dunigan was limited to just 18 points, though he did grab 17 boards and blocked 4 shots. In truth, either one would be a decent replacement for Gilas's Marcus Douthit, who is turning 33 on April 15.

In the second game, Alaska leaned on Rob Dozier’s monster output to defeat Ginebra, 102-93.  Dozier played maybe his best all-around game yet, registering 28 points, 20 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks, and 1 steal while shooting 9-of-14 from the field. Just WOW. This win made the Aces halt the Kings' winning run at six games while also giving themselves the first twice-to-beat edge in the quarterfinals, where they could face any team from the following Meralco, Talk N Text, or Air21.

On the other end of the floor, Ginebra’s Chris Ellis continues to fade as the season progresses, especially now that Mac Baracael has caught fire for coach Alfrancis Chua. Ellis shot 1-of-5 from the field tonight and turned the ball over twice in 16 minutes of action.

Just last night, Alaska won another one, holding GlobalPort at bay, 93-92. Calvin Abueva's double-double was big in helping the Aces roar back from a double-digit deficit to deny the upset-conscious Batang Pier. The Beast had 17 points and 14 rebounds in another sterling effort for league-leading Alaska. Another great outing by Rob Dozier reinforces the possibility he might just be the first recipient of the Bobby Parks Best Import of the Conference Trophy. Dozier was great in this one, scoring 18 points, grabbing 8 rebounds, and handing out 5 assists in another solid, all-around effort. Viva Le French-American!

Meanwhile, Gilas Pilipinas hopeful Japeth Aguilar continued to blow hot and cold. The big man from the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers scored just 5 points and grabbed only 4 rebounds in 21 minutes playing off the bench for GlobalPort.

In the Friday nightcap, Rain or Shine overcame Barako Bull, 106-97. Bruno Sundov eclipsed the lackadaisical DJ Mbenga… and how!!! Sundov finished with 25 points and 15 rebounds, including 4 triples, while former LA Laker Mbenga was bleh with 9 points and 6 boards. Safe to say he's on his way out.

In another issue hounding Barako coach Rajko Toroman, Sean Anthony seems to be the odd one out in the swingman rotation. The former Powerade Tiger shares time as a stretch forward with the likes of JC Intal and Danny Seigle, both of whom are a bit shiftier than he is. In this game, Anthony got the nod to start, but he ended up with just 5 points and 3 rebounds in 16 minutes.

After the game, ROS coach Yeng Guiao commented that maybe Barako pulled the plug on Mbenga a little too early and that the Energy Colas gave up too easily. I say Mbenga was a bust and Barako just kissed its quarterfinals chances good bye.

Game Recaps:
SAN MIG COFFEE over AIR21, 80-66
San Mig Coffee import Denzel Bowles scored 29 points and grabbed 16 rebounds, outdueling Air 21 counterpart Michael Dunigan in their monster matchup to lead the Mixers to an 80-66 victory over the Express Wednesday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

With the win, San Mig Coffee’s win-loss record improved to 7-6, marking the first time the defending champion Mixers moved above the .500 mark in the standings.

“If we’re gonna start playing good basketball, this is the time to play it,” said San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone. “I think its important to have momentum going into the playoffs.”

The Mixers won handily despite a scoreless evening from main man James Yap, who played just 14 minutes and missed all of his shots.

“James was sick the whole week, he was unavailable to practice the whole week,” said Cone. “He’s missed eight practices leading up to this game. James is not a guy who misses practice.”

San Mig Coffee got unlikely offensive firepower from Marc Pingris, who scored 14 points on top of 14 rebounds. But the energetic forward had to leave the game with more than eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter after tweaking his right ankle.

“Hopefully, he’ll be available the next game,” said Cone about Pingris, who injured the same ankle that had been bothering him all conference. “We’ll know tomorrow.”

Before leaving the game, Pingris had also been tapped to defend Air 21 top gun KG Canaleta, who exploded for 14 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter after the San Mig Coffee forward’s departure.

Peter June Simon and Jerwin Gaco scored key baskets late for the Mixers to quash the rally of Air 21, whose record dropped to 5-8 after suffering their third straight defeat.

Dunigan had 18 points and 17 rebounds for the Express.

SMC 80 – Bowles 29, Pingris 14, Simon 12, Barroca 9, Devance 7, Gaco 6, Mallari 2, de Ocampo 1, Najorda 0, Yap 0, Gonzales 0, Reavis 0.
AIR 66 – Cañaleta 26, Dunigan 18, Isip 10, Omolon 4, Menor 2, Custodio 2, Cortez 2, Arboleda 2, Atkins 0, Sena 0, Wiklson 0, Baclao 0, Ritualo 0.
QS: 20-16; 39-29; 60-45; 80-66

Denzel Bowles and Mike Dunigan have both been
floated as possible Gilas candidates.
Joe Devance's return has sparked the Mixers.

Morena beauty Rizza Diaz doing courtside.

ALASKA over BGY. GINEBRA, 102-93
The Alaska Aces captured an all-important twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals after defeating Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 102-93, in Commissioner’s Cup action Wednesday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

The victory assured the Aces the top spot in the standings, giving them the bonus for the next round. It also snapped the winning run of Ginebra, which had won six straight coming into the game.

“No. 1 doesn’t mean anything, except it gives us twice-to-beat advantage. We saw No. 1 losing in the playoffs, like San Mig Coffee losing to Powerade,” said Alaska coach Luigi Trillo, whose team’s record improved to 10-3.

“On a good note, we’re growing. Last conference we were 8-6.”

Robert Dozier scored 11 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter for Alaska, which unloaded a 10-0 run late in the fourth quarter to turn a tied game into a 96-86 spread.

LA Tenorio scored five straight points with less than a minute left to keep the Gin Kings within striking distance, but steady free throw shooting saved the win for the Aces.

Dozier had 20 rebounds and got plenty of support from the rest of the squad, with six other players scoring at least eight points.

The Aces’ win-loss record improved to 10-3.

Vernon Macklin led Ginebra with 28 points, 18 rebounds, and eight assists, while Tenorio added 19 for the Gin Kings, whose record fell to 7-6.

ALA 102 --  Dozier 28, Baguio 13, Espinas 12, Abueva 11, Hontiveros 10, Casio 8, Thoss 8, Dela Cruz 6, Jazul 4, Ramos 2.
GIN 93 – Macklin 27, Tenorio 19, Baracael 16, Labagala 8, Raymundo 8, Hatfield 7, Espiritu 3, Ellis 2, Helterbrand 2, Taha 1, Jensen 0, Maierhofer 0, Wilson 0.
QS: 30-18; 55-41; 71-69; 102-93

Vernon Macklin and Gabby Espinas get
in each other's grill.

Rob Dozier tries an acrobatic lay-up.

Down by double-digits in a non-bearing game against GlobalPort, the Alaska Aces could have easily folded.

Instead, the top team in the Commissioner’s Cup showed its heart, unleashing a furious second half run before repulsing a late Batang Pier rally led by Gary David to pull out a 93-92 victory.

“I’ll take it,” said Alaska coach Luigi Trillo. “The hardest games are when you play the last-place team. So much pressure.”

Alaska was trailing by 15 points, 72-57, on a three-pointer by GlobalPort’s Jaypee Belencion late in the third quarter, before the Aces turned up the heat. A layup by Calvin Abueva capped a a 32-5 run that gave Alaska an 89-77 advantage.

But GlobalPort, the last place team in the PBA, wasn’t about to go down without a fight. Led by Gary David who scored 22 of his 29 points in the second half, the Batang Pier went on a 15-4 tear to cut the deficit to a single point with 26 seconds remaining.

GlobalPort forced a turnover in the next play, giving the Batang Pier a chance to salvage a measure of pride to end their tournament. David found himself with a good look, but his layup was erased by Alaska import Robert Dozier.

Batang Pier guard Reed Juntilla recovered the looseball, but his jumper could not hit the target. A loose ball scramble ensued, leaving GlobalPort with one final opportunity with just six-tenths of a second remaining in the game.

GlobalPort tried to find David in the right corner, but Juntilla’s pass was tipped by Samigue Eman as time expired.

Alaska finished the eliminations with an 11-3 win-loss record. GlobalPort has lost its last 10 games to see its record drop to 2-11.

The Aces will enjoy a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals against the team that will finish in eighth place.

“Having a long rest is a luxury. I’ll take it, at this point, we have injuries,” said Trillo.

ALA 93 – Dozier 18, Abueva 17, Jazul 14, Casio 11, Hontiveros 11, Espinas 8, Dela Cruz 8, Belasco 4, Ramos 2, Reyes 0, Eman 0, Laure 0.
GLO 92 – David 29, Morgan 17, Lingganay 8, Belencion 7, Juntilla 7, Aljamal 7, Aguilar 5, Miller 5, Salvador 4, Deutchman 3, Mandani 0, Yee 0.
QS: 22-18; 45-46; 66-72; 93-92.

Japeth Aguilar continues to be held back.

Rain or Shine import Bruno Sundov completely outclassed Barako Bull counterpart DJ Mbenga to lead the Elasto Painters to a 106-97 victory Friday night at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

Sundov had 25 points on 4-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc and added 15 rebounds for Rain or Shine. Mbenga was a disappointment in his second PBA game, posting just nine points and six rebounds as he sat out most of the second half as Barako Bull fell into a huge deficit. The former Los Angeles Lakers center played just 23 minutes.

“I thought they gave up too easily on their import,” Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao said after the game.

Paul Lee and Ryan Araña added 19 and 18 points, respectively for the Elasto Painters, who led by as much as 23 points, 84-61, late in the third quarter.

Barako Bull tried to muster several rallies in the fourth period, coming as close as seven points on a three-pointer by Mark Macapagal with less than a minute left in the match.

But Rain or Shine held steady for their ninth win against four losses in the tournament, clinching at least a playoff for the No. 2 seed, which comes with it twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals.

“We didn’t want to repeat the same mistake we had versus Alaska,” added Guiao.

Rain or Shine can grab the second spot with a win over Meralco or a Petron loss in either of its last two assignments against Air 21 or Talk ‘N Text.

“The real advantage is winning 10 games and waiting for your quarterfinals matchup. Going to the playoffs is not an advantage anymore. We’re trying to avoid it,” said Guiao.

Barako Bull’s win-loss record fell to 4-9, leaving them with one foot out of the playoffs. For the team to make the quarterfinals, Air 21 needs to lose to Petron, and Barako Bull needs to win its final assignment against GlobalPort on Sunday to force a playoff for the last quarterfinals spot.

ROS 106 - Sundov 25, Lee 19, Arana 18, Tiu 12, Cruz 7, Matias 6, Norwood 4, Chan 4, Rodriguez 4, Belga 3, Jaime 2, Quinahan 2, Tang 0, Ibanes 0
BAR 97 - Seigle 19, Pennisi 17, Urbiztondo 12, Maliksi 10, Mbenga 9, Intal 6, Monfort 5, Anthony 5, Kramer 4, Cruz 2, Duncil 0
QS: 26-14, 48-38, 84-67, 106-97

DJ Mbenga was a bust. A TOTAL bust.

Bruno Sundov was brilliant against Barako.

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 and Paul Ryan Tan) 
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