2013 PBA Philippine Cup Roundup: November 20-22, 2013

The 2013-2014 PBA Season continued to rev in its first week. Barako Bull opened its season with a surprise win over Air21, Petron defeated GlobalPort, ROS went up 2-0 after beating the Bolts, while the Mixers fell anew.

The 2013 Govs' Cup champs have dug themselves
into a 0-2 hole.

In the first game, Barako Bull beat Air21, 88-75. The FEU connection of Mark Isip and Denok Miranda shone for coach Bong Ramos in Barako's very first game of the season. Isip drilled in 16 points, while Miranda scored 10 off the pine for the Energy Cola. They joined two other guys in double-digits -- Ronjay Buenafe and Mark Macapagal scored 11 and 10 markers respectively. Nobody really has high expectations for Barako Bull, so this team is bound take any win it can. Winning its very first game is a plus, of course, but the big question is can they prove this wasn't more than a fluke?

The Express were just crap in terms of taking care of the basketball. Air21 turned the ball over 19 times, and, consequently, the Energy Cola obliged by scoring 23 points-off-TOs. KG Cañaleta and Ogie Menor paired up for 9 of those 19 errors. Obviously, we know what coach Franz Pumaren will focus on going into their next game.

Both of these teams are expected to be nothing more than bottom-feeders at least for this conference. Both Barako Bull and Air21 are filled with veterans who, lately, haven't been able to showcase the sheen of their games. Joseph Yeo, Asi Taulava, RenRen Ritualo, and a host of others are looking for second and even third chances under coach Pumaren's system. In the same way, JC Intal, Jonas Villanueva, and Willie Miller are hoping they can rekindle the fire in the their careers under coach Ramos. Needless to say, it will be a rough-and-tumble season for both clubs.

In Wednesday’s nightcap, Petron Blaze defeated GlobalPort, 97-87. Man-child June Mar Fajardo, the man many fans expect to be the leading MVP candidate this season, took to the court and basically dominated his way to 15 points, 16 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 block as his Boosters stomped the Batang Pier. Fajardo, tagged to be part of the Spain-bound Gilas Pilipinas squad, is looking to improve on his already impressive play in the previous Govs' Cup. Should he reel in double-doubles on a nightly basis, the MVP race might as well be over and done with. #JustSaying

I pity the guys GlobalPort tried to throw at Fajardo -- Kelly Nabong, Jewel Ponferada, Jondan Salvador, and Eric Menk. They just couldn't contain the gentle giant. As a quartet, that unit produced 12 points and 15 rebounds, almost as good as what Fajardo registered SINGLE-HANDEDLY.

When both Marcio Lassiter and Chris Lutz are clicking, Petron's foes are surely in for a troublesome time. In this match, both former Gilas boys combined to score 36 points. Lassiter lit up the nets from long range, burying 4 triples, while Lutz was aggressive in attacking the basket and getting to the line, where he drained 8 freebies. They usually don't score well at the same time, so this was a rare luxury that Petron had the good sense not to squander.

In last night’s curtain-raiser, Rain or Shine overcame Meralco, 94-89. Beau Belga came to play in this one. The burly Gilas national pool big man delivered the goods, scoring 20 points, grabbing 7 rebounds, handing out 4 assists, getting 2 steals, and blocking 1 shot in a supremely productive effort. He outplayed the bigger Rabeh Al-Hussaini of Meralco, who finished with 14 points and 7 rebounds. ROS is now 2-0 to start the season.

The Bolts didn't do a good job of taking care of the basketball in this one. Meralco coughed up the rock 19 times, and gave up 19 points-off-turnovers. The chief culprits? Al-Hussaini, Mike Cortez, and Jared Dillinger each had 4 turnovers. That's understandable in the cases of Cortez and Dillinger, since they're both ball-handlers, but for a slotman like Rabeh to turn the ball over 4 times? I don't think there's any good excuse for that.

The Painters have been on-target from long range in their first two games. Against the Aces, ROS connected on 8 triples, while they buried 12 of their 28 in this one. So far, coach Yeng Guiao's wards are shooting better than 35% from beyond the arc, with Jeff Chan's 47% clip leading the way. Other guys who are currently norming at least one triple per game are Belga, Paul Lee, Ryan Araña, and Jireh Ibañes.

In the main match, Alaska won over San Mig Coffee, 84-80. It looks to me that Sonny Thoss is out to prove he is still a top-shelf center despite the influx of newer and younger talented big men. Against the Mixers, Thoss made 8 of his 13 field goals and ended up with 19 points. He also hauled down 8 rebounds to go with his 2 blocks and 1 steal. Clearly, the Gilas national pool slotman is still the Boss.

On the other end, coach Tim Cone's frontline go thoroughly outplayed in this match. Alaska had more second-chance points, 11-4, and outrebounded the SMC big men, 44-42. Alaska's starting frontcourt -- Thoss and Gabby Espinas -- ended up with 20 rebounds, while SMC's own -- Marc Pingris and Yancy De Ocampo -- registered just 8 boards total.

Last season's Rookie-of-the-Year, Calvin Abueva, is having quite a slow start to his sophomore campaign. His scoring, shooting, steals, and blocks numbers are all down, and the slight increase in his rebounding and assists haven't really made up the difference. Right now, the Beast's efficiency rating is about 7 percentage points lower than what he had for the entire 2012-2013 season. And don't even get me started on his atrocious free throw shooting ( just 33%). It's too early to say he's having a sophomore slump, so, again, I will stick to his having a (very) slow start.

Game Recaps:
BARAKO BULL over AIR21, 88-75
Barako Bull cruised to an easy 88-75 victory to open its PLDT MyDSL Philippine Cup campaign on Wednesday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum over the Air 21 Express.

Written off by observers after a series of controversial trades in the offseason, Barako Bull flexed its muscles, leading by as much as 33 points in the blowout.

“These players will pull surprises,” said Barako Bull coach Bong Ramos. “Even me, their coach, was surprised.

Barako Bull opened the second quarter with a 9-0 run to take a 31-17 lead. It was all Barako from that point on, as it took a 20-point halftime lead, 48-28.

They put the nail in the coffin in the third quarter, starting the period on a 15-3 run for a 33-point edge, 63-30.

Former Air 21 forward Mark Isip led Barako Bull with 16 points while Ronjay Buenafe added 11. Four other players finished with at least eight points as all 13 players fielded in by Ramos scored in the game.

Joseph Yeo had 22 points while KG Canaleta finished with 18 for Air 21, which was playing without star guard Mac Cardona.

After the game, Ramos justified his team’s controversial offseason moves.

“Yun talaga ang plano namin, is to get tried and tested players,” he said.

The moves included the departure of coaching consultant Rajko Toroman, whom Ramos thanked for his contributions for the squad.

“I’d like to thank him. Malaki ang naitulong niya sa aking pati sa Barako,” said Ramos, who added that the team still runs many of the same sets on offense and defense that Toroman installed.

According to Ramos, his players, many of whom are veterans who had little playing time in their former teams, have a chip on their shoulder.

“Masaya ako dahil the players really want to prove something,” said Barako Bull coach Bong Ramos. “Unang laro pa lang yan kaya wala pa silang na-po-prove.

BAR 88 – Isip 16, Buenafe 11, Macapagal 10, Miranda 10, Intal 9, Jensen 8, Villanueva 6, Wilson 4, Miller 4, Pennisi 4, Fortuna 2, Marcelo 2, Pena 2.
AIR 75 – Yeo 22, Canaleta 18, Taulava 10, Ritualo 7, Sharma 6, Custodio 5, Menor 4, Camson 2, Espiritu 1, Burstcher 0, Arboleda 0, Manuel 0.
QS: 22-17; 48-28; 75-44; 88-75

KG Canaleta is poised for another breakout year.

Mark Isip top-scored for the surprising Barako Bull five.

The Petron Blaze Boosters bucked the absence of top point guard Alex Cabagnot for an easy 97-87 win over the GlobalPort Batang Pier in their first match in the PLDT MyDSL Philippine Cup on Wednesday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

Chris Lutz and Marcio Lassiter scored 18 points apiece, reigning Most Valuable Player Arwind Santos added 16, while second-year center June Mar Fajardo finished with 15 and 16 rebounds for Petron, which missed Cabagnot and backup point man Chico Lanete because of injuries.

“Despite some personnel problems, we were able to get this win,” said Petron coach Gee Abanilla, who added that Cabagnot is still dealing with the same plantar fasciitis issue that kept him out of a couple of games in the Governors’ Cup finals last month.

“Medyo gumagaling naman kaya lang ayaw namin pwersahin.”

Cabagnot’s absence was hardly felt by the Boosters, who dominated the whole game against the rookie-laden Batang Pier.

Terrence Romeo finished with 13 points in his GlobalPort debut, but his fellow rookies RR Garcia (four points) and Nico Salva (three points) struggled.

Veteran stars Sol Mercado led GlobalPort with 20 points while Jay Washington, a former Petron star, had 15 points and 15 rebounds. Former MVP Eric Menk had six points and five rebounds in his PBA comeback for GlobalPort, which lost its first game under new coach Richie Ticzon.

There was a bit of bad news for the Boosters after second year man Yousef Taha, who joined the team in the offseason, hurt his knee in a fall. Taha’s agent Matthew Manotoc tweeted that the young center heard something pop in his right knee. Abanilla said an MRI will be done to get a better diagnosis of Taha’s condition.

PET 97 – Lassiter 18, Lutz 18, Santos 16, Fajardo 15, Kramer 11, Hubalde 7, Taha 6, Ross 3, Duncil 2, Deutchman 1.
GLO 87 – Mercado 20, Washington 15, Romeo 13, Najorda 10, Menk 6, Hayes 6, Belencion 4, Salvador 4, Garcia 4, Salva 3, Ponferada 2, Lingganay 0, Nabong 0.
QS: 28-18; 56-44; 75-63; 97-87

Terrence Romeo had one of the most interesting hairstyles
to open the Batang Pier's season.

Marcio Lassiter caught fire from rainbow country.

Beau Belga scored 20 points, including four insurance free throws in the last 13.4 seconds, to lead Rain or Shine to a pulsating 94-89 victory over the Meralco Bolts on Friday at Cuneta Astrodome.

The win gave Rain or Shine the early lead in the PLDT MyDSL Philippine Cup with a 2-0 win-loss record.

“It’s a hard win, it’s a tough win. I thought we really played bad today. Meralco made us play bad.” said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao. “We made some threes at a crucial point. We were also able to get some stops.”

It was a nip-and-tuck affair in the fourth quarter, with Meralco taking an 89-88 lead on Rabeh Al-Hussaini’s jumper with under a minute left.

Paul Lee responded by scoring the go-ahead three-point play over Reynel Hugnatan with under 35 seconds remaining.

Gary David threw up an airball on the next possession, which led to a scramble recovered by Meralco. Jervy Cruz foiled an attempt by Mike Cortez and recovered the ball, but referees called a jumpball on the play.

Television replays showed that Cortez hardly shared possession with the ball, leaving Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao fuming.

“We all got caught by surprise by the jumpball call,” said Guiao after the game. “I thought it was real far-fetched for a jumpball to be called. It could have cost us the game.”

Fortunately for the Elasto Painters, Belga recovered the tip and made two free throws.

Meralco had one final chance to tie the game, but could not get the ball to ace gunner Gary David, who finished with 24 points. Jared Dillinger’s three-point attempt failed to hit iron, and Belga hit two more free throws to seal the win.

The burly center added seven rebounds, four assists, two steals, and a block for Rain or Shine.

The Bolts lost their second straight game to open the conference after falling to Talk ‘N Text last Sunday.

ROS 94 – Belga 20, Arana 14, Rodriguez 13, Lee 12, Chan 11, Norwood 7, Cruz 6, Tang 5, Ibanes 3, Nuyles 2, Teng 1, Almazan 0.
MER 89 – David 24, Al-Hussaini 14, Hugnatan 11, Cortez 10, Wilson 10, Dillinger 8, Hodge 7, Guevarra 5, Salvacion 0, Allado 0, Mandani 0.
QS: 18-23, 38-41, 66-60, 94-89

Beau Belga was in beast mode against the Bolts.

Jared Dillinger looks healthy and ready to be a leader for Meralco.

Alaska owner Fred Uytengsu was celebrating his 52nd birthday on Friday, and his Aces had the perfect gift for him: an 84-80 victory over the San Mig Coffee Mixers in the PLDT MyDSL Philippine Cup at Cuneta Astrodome.

“Just happy that we could do it for him,” said Alaska coach Luigi Trillo.

Sonny Thoss had 19 points and eight rebounds while Cyrus Baguio added 18 points for Alaska, which pounced on a shorthanded San Mig Coffee squad playing without top gunners Joe Devance and Peter June Simon as well as rookie Justin Melton.

The Aces controlled the game early, racing to a 25-13 lead midway through the first quarter. But the Mixers battled back behind superstar James Yap and rookie Ian Sangalang, trimming the gap to just five points, 43-38, at halftime.

Alaska regained its balance in the third period, opening up a 69-59 lead heading into the final quarter.

The Aces put the final nail on the coffin with an 8-0 run to start the fourth quarter, and the Mixers could not string together enough points to threaten the rest of the way.

The only downer for the Alaska victory was the Aces allowing San Mig Coffee to whittle down the lead, since Uytengsu pledged to donate P52,000 for every point in their margin of victory to relief efforts for those affected by super typhoon “Yolanda.”

That meant the Uytengu’s total donation for the day would amount to P208,000.

JVee Casio added 15 points and five assists for Alaska, which joined the win column after an opening day loss to Rain or Shine last Sunday in Davao.

Yap led San Mig Coffee with 19 points and six rebounds, while Sangalang finished with 15 points in his second PBA game. The Mixers lost their second game of the season, marking the third straight conference they started at 0-2.

ALA 84 – Thoss 19, Baguio 18, Casio 15, Jazul 8, Ramos 8, Abueva 7, Espinas 6, Dela Cruz 2, Avenido 1, Hontiveros 0, Eman 0.
SMC 80 – Yap 19, Sanggalang 15, Barroca 13, Pingris 11, Reavis 8, Mallari 6, Holstein 4, Acuna 2, Gaco 2, Alvarez 0, De Ocampo 0, Cawaling 0.
QS: 26-17, 43-38, 69-59, 84-80

Sonny Thoss is out to prove something this season.

Tim Cone isn't raring to go back to the drawing board after his
club fell to 0-2.

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 Paul Ryan Tan)

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