2013 PBA Philippine Cup Roundup: November 17, 2013

The 2013-2014 PBA Season opened yesterday in earnest with a simple opening ceremony dedicated to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda. This was followed by an unprecedented almost simultaneous staging of three separate games – one each in Manila, Cebu, and Davao. At the end of the day, the season’s first victors were Ginebra, Talk N Text, and Rain or Shine.

Greg Slaughter impressed in his PBA debut for the Gin Kings.

In the Manila leg, Ginebra beat San Mig Coffee, 86-69, behind a key second half explosion. That was anchored on the comebacking Dylan Ababou, who, freshly recovered from a torn ACL, rattled in all 16 of his points after the break. The former Growling Tiger hit 6/9 field goals, including 3 triples, to help the Kings turn an 8-point halftime deficit into a 3-point lead heading into the payoff period.

The Mixers started with a lot of energy, but their bad shooting eventually caught up with them. Only two guys -- Mark Barroca and Val Acuña -- scored in double-digits, while old reliables like James Yap, Marc Pingris, and Yancy De Ocampo all scored 8 points or less. As a team, SMC shot just 12% from beyond the arc and 44% from the line. Not really the best way to start a whole new season.

Right now, coach Ato Agustin must be the envy of all other PBA coaches. He has the luxury to start both Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar and then have someone like Jay-R Reyes come off the bench to spell either big man. No one among those three guys is shorter than 6'8. In this game, all three frontliners did pretty well. Greg had 10 points and 13 rebounds, Aguilar led all scorers with 18 markers on top of 8 boards, while Reyes added 10 points and 9 ribbies. Japeth and Greg also combined to block 7 shots.

Over in Cebu, Talk N Text overcame Meralco, 89-80, as Eloy Poligrates, the Cebuano local who turned heads in the PBA Draft, shone brightly in front of a raucous home crowd. He scored nine straight points in a pivotal fourth quarter run that broke the game open and helped hand Talk N Text its first win of the season. Poligrates ended up with 13 points in his pro debut, and it sure looks like he will play a significant role for the reigning Philippine Cup champs.

The Meralco frontcourt was visibly outplayed in this one. Cliff Hodge, Reynel Hugnatan, and Rabeh Al-Hussaini all scored 9 points or fewer, and they allowed an RDO-less TNT frontline to outwork them on both ends of the floor. The Bolts allowed the returning Kelly Williams and new recruit Noy Baclao to score a total of 22 points, which underscored the depth and potential of the Tropang Texters.

This match also welcomed back former national team standout, slam dunk champ, and MVP Kelly Williams. He returned to action for Talk N Text after a much-publicized battle with a blood condition, and it sure seems like he didn't really miss a beat. He was active in this game, both offensively and defensively, and he keyed that huge 17-4 blast in the final quarter that helped push TNT to the W.

In the day’s final encounter, Rain or Shine won over Alaska, 87-74. Jeff Chan waxed hot in this one, draining 4 of his 8 three-point attempts on his way to 17 points as the Painters blasted the Aces in Davao. This is significant because Chan didn't shoot too well in the previous conference. Looks like the Gilas sniper is keen on sharpening his sights in preparation for the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain.

The Aces fell behind early and never fully recovered against such an energetic ROS quintet. Evidence of this was Alaska's frontline getting soundly whipped. Sonny Thoss, Gabby Espinas, and Samigue Eman all combined for just 13 points, while the Painters' own big men -- Jervy Cruz, JR Quiñahan, Larry Rodriguez, and Beau Belga -- despite being severely undersized, put up a total of 39 markers. What's more intriguing is that coach Yeng Guiao's frontcourt should get even better when Letran stalwart Raymond Almazan finally suits up.

The most impressive interior player here, by far, was Cruz. He isn't the biggest center-forward in the PBA (he is actually one of the smallest), but he definitely is one of the most skilled. He also has a mighty big heart. Against a much taller Alaska frontline, the former UST star slotman produced a dozen markers and a dozen boards. Cruz is projected to be one of the veterans who'll whip rookie Almazan into top shape, and, if this performance is any indication, the third overall pick will really learn from one of the best.

Game Recaps:
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel served notice to the rest of the league with an impressive 86-69 win over the San Mig Coffee Mixers to open the PLDT MyDSL Philippine Cup on Sunday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

The new twin tower combination of Japeth Aguilar and Greg Slaughter helped the Gin Kings rule the paint. Aguilar had 18 points, eight rebounds, and five blocks, while top overall pick Slaughter added 10 points, 13 rebounds, and two blocks for the Gin Kings, who they put the clamps down on the Mixers in the second half. Ginebra outscored San Mig Coffee, 52-27, after the halftime break.

“Iba pa rin ang merong malaki,” said Ginebra coach Ato Agustin.

Ginebra also got a spark from Dylan Ababou, who scored all 16 of his points after being inserted in the third quarter. Ababou’s hot shooting made up for the subpar game from Ginebra star Mark Caguioa, who scored just two points after missing all four of his shots.

“Kailangan humanap ka ng magandang combination,” said Agustin, who said benching top players wouldn’t be a problem with the team.

“We all agreed na team muna. Walang magiging problema.”

LA Tenorio finished with 17 points and 10 assists for the Gin Kings, while backup center Jay-R Reyes also came up big with 10 points and nine rebounds in his Ginebra debut.

Mark Barroca led San Mig Coffee with 14 points, while Val Acuna was the only other player in double figures for the Mixers with 10 points. After a solid start, the recently-crowned champion of the Governors’ Cup could not muster enough firepower down the stretch as it missed Joe Devance and Peter June Simon because of injuries.

No. 2 overall pick Ian Sangalang had a solid debut for the Mixers with eight points, four rebounds, and two assists in 23 minutes.

Despite the impressive win, Agustin cautioned against putting too much stock in it.

“It’s a first win. Hindi dapat magsaya. Long way to go,” he said.

GIN 86 – Aguilar 18, Tenorio 17, Ababou 16, Slaughter 10, Reyes 10, Ellis 7, Helterbrand 5, Caguioa 2, Monfort 1, Baracael 0, Urbiztondo 0, Forrester 0, Faundo 0.
SMC 69 – Barroca 14, Acuna 11, Sangalang 8, Yap 8, Pingris 7, Reavis 7, Melton 5, De Ocampo 4, Mallari 4, Holstein 1, Cawaling 0.
QS: 20-21; 34-42; 58-55; 86-69

That is one huge Ginebra frontline.

James Yap struggled against Ginebra.

Oooh. Inspiring indeed.

Marian Rivera was a beautiful sight.

Talk ‘N Text rookie Eloy Poligrates enjoyed a dream PBA debut, scoring nine of his 13 points in the fourth quarter to help lead his Tropang Texters to an 89-80 victory in their first game in the PLDT MyDSL Philippine Cup on Sunday at the New Cebu Coliseum in Cebu.

Cheered on by his home crowd every time he touched the ball, Poligrates scored nine straight Talk ‘N Text points in a blistering 17-4 fourth quarter run that swung the game the Tropang Texters’ way.

Jayson Castro led the way for Talk ‘N Text with 20 points while new acquisition Noy Baclao and the returning Kelly Williams added 14 and 10 points, respectively.

The game remained close until the fourth quarter with Meralco leading 66-64 at the end of the third after a veritable shootout between the Bolts’ Gary David (20 points) and the Tropang Texters’ Castro (18) in the first three periods.

But Talk ‘N Text’s depth shone through in the fourth, with Williams opening with back-to-back layups, Jimmy Alapag hitting in the post and the two former MVPs connecting on another play that resulted in another two points for Williams.

Poligrates then took over, scoring in transition, drawing fouls and even knocking down a three-pointer to the delight of the partisan Cebuano crowd as Talk ‘N Text turned a two-point deficit into a an 11-point lead, 81-70.

Meralco could come no closer than seven points the rest of the way.

David finished with a game-high 26 points in his first game for Meralco but Jared Dillinger was the only other Bolts player in double-digit scoring with 11.

TNT 89 – Castro 20,  Baclao 14, Poligrates 13, Williams 10,  Alapag 8, Carey 6, Fonacier 6, Peek 6,  Aban 4,  Anthony 2, Ferriols 0.
MER 80 – David 26, Dillinger 11, Hodge 9, Cortez 8, Hugnatan 7,  Al-hussaiani 7, Salvacion 6, Wilson 2, Allado 2, Artadi 2.
QS: 24-23; 42-42; 64-66; 89-80.

The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters capped the PBA 2014 season’s opening day triple slate with an 87-74 victory over the Alaska Aces on Sunday at the University of Southeastern Philippines gym in Davao City.

Jeff Chan scored 17 points on 4-of-8 three-point shooting while Jervy Cruz added 12 points and 12 rebounds for Rain or Shine, which is hoping to return to the finals of the PLDT MyDSL Philippine Cup after a runner-up finish last season.

The Elasto Painters went off to a great start, taking a 49-34 advantage at halftime over the Aces inside the packed gymnasium.

Free throws by Rain or Shine rookie wingman Alex Nuyles gave the Elasto Painters a 53-35 bubble early in the third period. Alaska tried to make headway with a 13-4 run to cut its deficit to just nine points, 57-48.

But Rain or Shine responded by scoring the next 11 points of the game to open up a 20-point lead, 68-48, just before the end of the third quarter.

The Elasto Painters were cruising the rest of the before three straight three-pointers by Alaska — two from JVee Casio and one from Ryan Buenafe — took the Aces to within nine points with under a minute left in the game.

But it was too little, too late for Alaska, as Paul Lee sealed the win for Rain or Shine with two free throws and an alleyoop pass to Gabe Norwood.

ROS 87 – Chan 17, Rodriguez 13, Cruz 12, Quinahan 9, Norwood 8, Ibanes 6, Belga 5, Teng 5, Arana 4, Lee 4, Nuyles 4, Matias 0
ALA 74 – Baguio 17, Casio 10, Hontiveros 10, Espinas 8, Abueva 7, Ramos 7, Buenafe 5, Jazul 5, Thoss 3, Avenido 2, Eman 0, Dela Cruz 0
QS: 24-18, 48-39, 70-52, 87-74

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

Images: Unless otherwise specified, images are from InterAKTV. (Photo credit to Paolo Papa and Pranz Kaeno Billones)

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