2013 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Quarterfinals Roundup: April 19-22, 2013

The 2013 PBA Commish Cup Semifinals cast is nearly complete with three teams already advancing after the first whirlwind weekend of the Playoffs went underway. Alaska wasted no time in disposing of Air21 to be the first team to advance, the Texters swept the Boosters in their best-of-three, and the Gin Kings defeated the Painters twice in a row to book their seats in the Final Four. The fourth and last semis slot is still being contested between the Meralco Bolts and the San Mig Coffee Mixers.

Alfrancis Chua and the Kings move on to the
Commish Cup Final Four.

Last Friday, Meralco beat San Mig Coffee, 88-85, to take a 1-0 lead in their series. The Mixers tried to stop Eric Dawson, but they failed in the end. He didn't score 50 points this time around, but, hey, 25 ain't too shabby, right? One win away from a semis stint. One win away from dethroning last year's Commish Cup champs. One win away from thoroughly proving he's the best import around.

Mac Cardona was not on fire tonight, but Ronjay Buenafe and Sunday Salvacion both stepped in and stepped up. That duo combined for 26 points, including 6-of-12 shooting from rainbow country, to help the Bolts get one step closer to the Commish Cup Semis.

In the second game, Talk N Text defeated Petron, 100-93, for their own 1-0 lead.  Though he battled with foul trouble all night, I love how RaniDIRK De Ocampo came up big again for the Texters. RDO shot 9-of-12 from the field in a scintillating shooting display, enabling him to finish with 22 points. The Gilas Pilipinas helped spread the floor with a variety of moves and outside shots. Man, if he were only 3 inches taller, he might just be in the NBA already. MIGHT.

Petron and TNT are certainly two of the deepest teams in the league, but only one team really showed it tonight, with the Texters' bench mob, led by Rabeh Al-Hussaini and Ali Peek, sparking a key fourth quarter run that all but put the coach Norman Black just one win away from advancing to the Commish Cup Final Four. Al-Hussaini and Peek paired up for 19 points and 11 rebounds.

A day after, Alaska overcame Air21, 87-81, to be the first club to advance to the semis. This was a game dominated by former national team playmaker JV Casio. I mean, wow. The diminutive Casio hit 4 triples on his way to 19 points on top of 5 assists as the Aces were the first to move into the semifinals.

The Aces’ Rob Dozier may not have the scoring chops of Eric Dawson, but one can argue he fits like a glove in Alaska and is the biggest reason they areare on top of the PBA right now. Dozier continued to impress here, scoring just 17 points, but grabbing 22 rebounds and blocking 4 shots. He also limited Air21 import Mike Dunigan to just 13 points in 46 minutes.

In Saturday’s main game, Bgy. Ginebra forced a rubber match after winning over Rain or Shine, 90-83. The big-small combo of Vernon Macklin and LA Tenorio was wonderful in this one. V-Mack dropped 21 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block, while Tenorio registered 19 markers, 7 boards, 3 assists, and 2 thefts.

Jayjay Helterband wowed everyone with a performance reminiscent of his Fast & Furious days with Mark Caguioa. Helterbrand scored all 13 points in the fourth quarter to rally the Kings and help force a rubber match against the second-seeded Painters.

During Sunday’s curtain-raiser, Talk N Text swept Petron, 96-88, to barge into the semis. The Gilas boys came to play tonight. Ranidel De Ocampo, Jayson Castro, Ryan Reyes, and Jimmy Alapag -- all members of the Gilas PIlipinas National Pool -- combined for 59 points to lead the Texters into the semifinal round!

On the other end of the floor, Alex Cabagnot and Jay Wasington, historically two of Petron's top guns, were silent again tonight. Both paired up for 6 points in 41 minutes of action. Perhaps even more intriguing, however, was Washington commenting post-game that he doesn't know what the future holds. #TradeTalks?

In the Sunday closer, San Mig Coffee muffed Meralco, 100-92, to force a game three.  This time, it was Denzel Bowles who shone brightest. He scored 35 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, blocked 3 shots, and stole the ball twice. Looks like he has no plans of relinquishing the Best Import plum that easily.

Also, Tim Cone's much maligned faith in the inconsistent Alex Mallari was rewarded tonight. The rookie playmaker dropped 16 points, grabbed 7 rebounds and had 2 steals in what might be his best showing in the conference.

In yesterday’s do-or-die Monday match-up, Bgy. Ginebra frustrated Rain or Shine, 81-79. Vernon Macklin was the unquestionable main driving force in this big win. He unloaded 24 points on 11-of-19 FG shooting along with 16 rebounds and 6 assists. He also made the big plays down the stretch, including a huge block on Jeff Chan and the marginal free throws, to prop the Kings up in the semifinals.

For Rain or Shine, Bruno Sundov was rattled by foul trouble, and, once again, his production took a big hit. The Croatian big man finished with just 12 points and 6 boards in 26 minutes of play as his Painters were booted despite having the twice-to-beat edge.

Game Recaps:
The Meralco Bolts survived a monster performance from Denzel Bowles, clamping down on the rest of the San Mig Coffee Mixers to pull out a thrilling 88-85 victory in their best-of-three Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals series Friday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

Bowles, the tournament’s reigning Best Import, exploded for 37 points. But only one other player, Alex Mallari who had 12 points, scored in double figures for the defending champions.

“The challenge against San Mig Coffee is to make them bleed for their baskets, and that’s what we did,” said Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio, whose Bolts are still trying to book their first PBA final four appearance in franchise history.

The win put Meralco one step closer to advancing, but Gregorio cautioned against overconfidence.

“There’s no reason for us to celebrate,” said Gregorio, who noted that his team had been in a similar situation before. The two squads also faced off last year in the quarterfinals of the Commissioner’s Cup, with the Bolts also taking Game One behind import Earl Barron.

But led by Bowles, the team then known as the B-MEG Llamados rallied to win the next two games of the series to advance to the semifinals and before eventually going all the way to the title.

Meralco got another fine performance from import Eric Dawson, who shook off a knee injury to finish with 25 points, including several crucial free throws late in the game, and 18 rebounds.

“He’s so used to playing in playoff situations,” said Gregorio. “We’re just climbing on his back.”

Ronjay Buenafe and Sunday Salvacion added 13 points apiece from the Bolts, who had the chance to close out the series on Sunday at the same venue.

MER 88 – Dawson 25, Buenafe 13, Salvacion 13, Manuel 8, Cardona 8, Ross 7, Hugnatan 6, Hodge 4, Reyes 3, Artadi 1.
SMC 85 – Bowles 37, Mallari 12, Simon 9, Yap 8, Pingris 7, Barroca 6, Devance 6, Gaco 0, Najorda 0, Reavis 0, De Ocampo 0.
QS: 16-26, 47-43, 70-66, 88-85

The Bolts had a big win in Game 1 against San Mig Coffee.

TALK N TEXT over PETRON, 100-93
With import Jerome Jordan and top scorer Ranidel De Ocampo in foul trouble, Talk ‘N Text looked like it was in trouble.

Instead, the Tropang Texters’ reserve big men stepped up, keying a fourth quarter run to help put away the Petron Blaze Boosters, 100-93, in the opener of their best-of-three Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals series Friday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

Rabeh Al-Hussaini scored all eight of his points in a 17-7 run to open the fourth quarter for Talk ‘N Text. That turned a tight 72-69 game into a comfortable 89-76 advantage.

Al-Hussaini and Ali Peek, who had 11 points, combined to anchor the Tropang Texters for long stretches in the second half.

“Those guys stepped up for us defensively and also supplied some points for us,” said Talk ‘N Text coach Norman Black.

Petron made a final run, cutting the lead to just five points, 95-90, with just a minute left in the game. But the Tropang Texters held on in the clutch to move just one game away from booking their semifinals ticket.

But Black was not exactly happy with his team’s performance.

“We got killed on the boards again,” said Black, who saw seven players score at least eight points for Talk ‘N Text. De Ocampo had 18 of his 22 points in the first half, while Ryan Reyes added 16.

The coach called out Jordan, who had a quiet evening with just 11 points and five rebounds.

“Jerome Jordan’s got to play a lot better,” said Black, whose team has a chance to close out the series on Sunday.

TNT 100 - De Ocampo 22, Reyes 16, Fonacier 14, Jordan 11, Castrro 11, Peek 11, Al-Hussaini 8, Alapag 3, Dillinger 2, Carey 2, Aban 0.
PET 93 - Sims 22, Lassiter 17, Fajardo 13, Tubid 11, Miranda 9, Santos 8, Cabagnot 7, Washington 4, Lutz 2, Pena 0.
QS: 21-19, 41-41, 72-69, 100-93

Rabeh Al-Hussaini came up big against Petron.

ALASKA ACES over AIR21, 87-81
The Alaska Aces cruised to its second straight semifinals stint of the season, but not before having to survive a big Air 21 uprising and score an 87-81 triumph in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Saturday night at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

JVee Casio finished with 19 points to lead four other Alaska players in double figures.

Robert Dozier contributed 17 points and a game-high 22 rebounds and four blocks, Calvin Abueva added 14 markers, while Sonny Thoss and Cyrus Baguio each had `12 for the Aces, who will march to yet another semifinals stint, the second straight under young coach Luigi Trillo.

But Trillo and the Aces squandered a 19-point lead early in the third period, 48-29, and allowed the Express to make a game out of it.

“I thought we had a good first half. We seemed sharp. It’s good to see the players healthy,” said Trillo. “But I’m not surprised Air21 is in the quarterfinals. Once KG (Canaleta) gets started, Air 21 is capable of beating any team.”

Canaleta scored nine of his 16 markers in the third period when the Express mounted a rally. By the end of the third, the lead has been cut down to seven, 67-60.

But Casio set the tone anew in the fourth and with Dozier and Thoss muscling their way inside, the Aces were able to survive the Express charge.

ALA 87 – Casio 19, Dozier 17, Abueva 14, Thoss 12, Baguio 12, Jazul 8, Hontiveros 3, Dela Cruz 2, Reyes 0, Espinas 0.
AIR 81 – Canaleta 16, Dunigan 13, Cortez 11, Omolon 9, Custodio 8, Isip 8, Arboleda 8, Baclao 4, Menor 4, Atkins 0, Wilson 0, Ritualo 0.
QS: 28-21, 46-29, 67-60, 87-81.

JV Casio caught fire against Air21.

Jayjay Helterbrand, one of only two Most Valuable Player awardees on the Barangay Ginebra lineup, made a return to vintage form when his team needed it the most.

Inserted back into the rotation after coming off a bout with bronchitis, the veteran guard contributed 13 points to inspire the Kings in completing a come-from-behind 90-83 triumph over the Rain or
Shine Elasto Painters on Saturday night at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

With the win, the Kings survived another day and set up a winner-take-all showdown with the Elasto Painters for a final four seat on Monday.

“I told the players that twice-to-beat and best-of-three is the same thing because you need to beat them twice,” said Barangay Ginebra coach Alfrancis Chua regarding the Kings’ situation prior to the
start of their quarterfinals showdown with the Elasto Painters.

“Jayjay and Kerby (Raymundo) stepped up for us while (Josh) Urbiztondo and Vernon Macklin did their job. But on this game, I’m giving it to Jayjay. I’m happy yung kumpiyansa niya bumalik na,” added

Helterbrand scored all of his total output in the pivotal fourth when the Kings completed a comeback after being down by as much as 15, 60-45, in the third period.

But the Kings scored 32 fourth-quarter points with Helterbrand leading the charge as the league’s crowd darling turned the tables on the Elasto Painters.

GIN 90 – Macklin 21, Tenorio 19, Raymundo 14, Helterbrand 13, Baracael 7, Hatfield 7, Ellis 5, Urbiztondo 4, Taha 0, Labagala 0, Mamaril 0.
ROS 83 – Sundov 29, Chan 15, Cruz 12, Arana 8, Lee 6, Norwood 5, Quinahan 4, Ibanes 4, Tiu 0, Matias 0, Belga 0, Rodriguez 0.
QS: 23-29, 37-48, 58-62, 90-83.

Vernon Macklin was dominant against ROS.

TALK N TEXT over PETRON, 96-86
Talk ‘N Text drew another quiet game from import Jerome Jordan, but the rest of the Tropang Texters stepped up to upend Petron Blaze, 96-86, to clinch their Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals series Sunday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

The Tropang Texters swept the series in two games, with both matches playing out in near-identical fashion.

Jordan once again struggled with foul trouble, finishing with just 11 points and five rebounds. But six other Talk ‘N Text players scored at least seven points, as the Tropang Texters, like in Game One, used another fourth quarter push to book the victory.

“You’ve gotta give a lot of credit to the local players,” said Talk ‘N Text coach Norman Black. “They really stepped up with Jerome on the bench with foul trouble. They really delivered.”

Just like in Game One, Ranidel De Ocampo led the Tropang Texters with 17 points, while Jayson Castro added 16.

Talk ‘N Text outscored Petron, 23-12, in the final period to enter the tournament’s final four.

“We basically struggled the whole conference so it’s good to see our game pick up when it mattered most,” said Black, whose Talk ‘N Text squad entered the playoffs as the No. 6 seed after finishing with a 7-7 win-loss record.

Black said replacing the struggling Jordan at this point is out of the question.

“Right now, I think he’s not really accustomed to the physical play,” said Black. “Hopefully Jerome’s just getting used to the physicalness of the PBA.”

Talk ‘N Text will play the winner of the quarterfinal series between Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Rain or Shine, whose rubber match will be played on Monday.

“I’ll be watching that game with a lot of interest,” said Black.

It was another disappointing finish for Petron, who entered the quarterfinals as the third seed. It marked the second straight tournament wherein the talented Boosters failed to make it past the quarterfinal round.

TNT 96 - De Ocampo 17, Castro16, Reyes 14, Alapag 12, Jordan 11, Dillinger 8, Al-Hussaini 7, Peek 7, Fonacier 4, Aban 0, Ferriols 0, Carey 0.
PET 86 - Lassiter 23, Sims 17, Fajardo 15, Santos 15, Miranda 10, Cabagnot 4, Washington 2, Lutz 0, Tubid 0, Pena.
QS: 28-32, 52-56, 73-74, 96-86

Ranidel De Ocampo is all smiles after
TNT eliminated Petron.

Denzel Bowles put together another monster performance for San Mig Coffee.

Unlike in the series opener, however, he got plenty of help from the rest of the Mixers.

The defending champions kept their repeat bid alive with a 100-92 victory over the Meralco Bolts Sunday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum to extend their Commissioner’s Cup best-of-three series to a rubber match.

San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone, however, cautioned about celebrating too early.

“We certainly haven’t won anything yet, so it’s nothing to get excited about,” he said.

Bowles was once again dominant, scoring 35 points to lead the Mixers along with 14 rebounds and three blocks.

Alex Mallari continued his fine performance in the series, scoring a career-high 16 points and adding seven rebounds. Marc Pingris and Peter June Simon added 12 and 11 points, respectively, for the Mixers.

“It’s a confidence-booster but I’m not gonna stop there. I’ll just keep better,” said Mallari, who scored 12 points in the opening match of the series.

San Mig Coffee is hoping for a repeat of last year’s quarterfinals, which saw them defeat Meralco in three games before winning the title.

But Cone said history is the farthest thing from the Mixers’ minds.

“If we’re thinking about what happened last year, then we’re getting ahead of ourselves,” said Cone.

“We don’t want to assume, because what do they say? If you assume, then you make an ass of you and me.”

SMC 100 - Bowles 35, Mallari 16, Pingris 12, Simon 11, Barroca 9, Yap7, Devance 6, De Ocampo 3, Reavis 1.
MER 92 - Dawson 23, Cardona 14, Hodge 12, Ross 10, Hugnatan 9, Salvacion 9, Reyes 8, Buenafe 3, Manuel 2, Artadi 2.
QS: 24-28, 52-42, 75-68, 100-92

Alex Mallari stepped up big time to force Game 3 against Meralco.

Vernon Macklin scored the last four points of the game, including the marginal free throws to lead Barangay Ginebra San Miguel to an 81-79 victory over the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters Monday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

The Gin Kings import scored on a tip-in to tie the game with under a minute left, before making two pressure-packed free throws with 11 seconds in the game to help Ginebra complete a quarterfinals upset over the second-seed Elasto Painters.

Rain or Shine had several opportunities to at least tie the game. But Macklin blocked Jeff Chan’s layup attempt with six seconds left.

The Elasto Painters drew up a play that freed up Paul Lee for a corner three-pointer that missed. Rain or Shine got a couple of offensive rebounds, but point-blank attempts by Chan and Gabe Norwood failed to hit the mark, leaving the mammoth crowd of 12,764 fans at the Big Dome in ecstasy as the final buzzer sounded.

Macklin finished with 24 points, 16 rebounds, and six assists for Ginebra, which moves to the best-of-five semifinals against the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters.

Chris Tiu and Lee led Rain or Shine with 15 and 14 points apiece, while import Bruno Sundov battled foul trouble to finish with a quiet 12 points.

GIN 81 - Macklin 24, Ellis 13, Raymundo 13, Baracael 10, Helterbrand 9, Hatfield 6, Urbiztondo 3, Tenorio 2, Taha 1.
ROS 79 - Tiu 15, Lee 14, Sundov 12, Cruz 10, Chan 9, Belga 5, Norwood 4, Matias 3, Araña 3, Rodriguez 2, Quiñahan 2, Ibañes 0.
QS: 22-23, 44-41, 63-61, 81-79

Chris Ellis rams it through as the
Kings advance.

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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