2013 PBA Philippine Cup Roundup: November 24-27, 2013

Ronjay Buenafe and John Wilson, two of the most unheralded players in the pros, caught fire in the last two PBA playdates as the Energy Cola and the Bolts nabbed wins. Meanwhile, Ginebra and Petron continued to roll with victories of their own.

In this past Sunday’s opener, Barako Bull beat Alaska, 97-93, as Ronjay Buenafe canned SEVEN threes on his way to 27 points. Buenafe was on fire from long range, continuing to show the PBA fans that he is one of the deadliest shooters in the country. He's definitely a key reason why the Energy Cola are currently undefeated.

Ronjay Buenafe was just on fire against Alaska.

On the other end, Calvin Abueva continued to be underwhelming for the Aces. The 2013 ROY played just 18 minutes mainly because he battled with foul trouble. He did score 9 points and grab 9 rebounds, but one must wonder if the outcome would have been any different had he played much longer.

Another guy who has done well for the Energy Cola is Mark Isip, who seems to have found his niche with Barako Bull. The 6'5 former FEU Tamaraw has had a roller coaster pro career, hopping from one team to another. He has, in fact, played for seven different franchises since turning pro in 2006. This is actually his second tour of duty with Barako Bull. It has just been two games, but Isip is already posting career numbers. He is norming 14.0ppg and 4.0rpg in a career-high 27.0mpg. He won't win any MVP trophies, but he looks to be a solid piece for an aging Barako Bull core.

Following that game, Ginebra defeated Air21, 97-84. Boy, Mark Caguioa really stuck it to the ROS backcourt in this one. The Spark shot 9/14 from the field to finish with 22 points on top of 5 rebounds and 3 assists. This was one of Caguioa's best games in recent memory, and the Ginebra fanatics are definitely hoping to see more of his vintage virtuoso form. One particular play that stood out was Caguioa crossing over Paul Lee twice before stepping back and hitting a cool fadeaway J. Awesomeness.

The Painters are a three-point spamming squad, and when the three doesn't fall consistently, they will always be in trouble. That's what happened here. ROS shot twice as many threes as Ginebra did, and the Painters missed two-thirds of those. Overall, they shot just 38% from the floor and got outworked on the glass, 53-47. Lee, Gabe Norwood, and JR Quiñahan all combined to shoot 1/11 from beyond the arc.

We all knew that a Japeth Aguilar-Greg Slaughter frontline combo would be intimidating, right? Yes, but we didn't really expect them to work this well together this soon. As a pair, this twin-tower combination is norming 32.5ppg, 22.0rpg, and 6.0bpg. They're BOTH currently among the PBA's top five most efficient players. Ain't scared yet? Well, you should be.

In last night’s curtain-raiser, Meralco walloped Air21, 112-79.

6/6 from beyond the arc? 10/15 overall? John Wilson was at his darned sharpest last night as the Bolts blasted the Express. The former JRU Heavy Bomber ended up with a game-high 26 points as Meralco finally broke into the win column. Another guy who shot well was Sunday Salvacion, who connected from long range four times on his way to fifteen markers.

I'm not sure which was worse -- the Express missing 75% of their threes or turning the ball over 19 times. Coach Franz Pumaren's boys just couldn't catch a break in this game. As early as the second quarter, they were on the receiving end of Meralco's barrage. Now, Air21 is staring at a 0-3 hole. Looks like they're back to their Shopinas.com Clickers days.

In the meantime, Meralco’s Rabeh Al-Hussaini had 11 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks in this big win. Is this a sign of things to come or is this another mirage from the enigmatic big man? The former King Eagle has had a tumultuous stint in the pros, and here's to hoping he'll have more nights like this one.

In the Wednesday nightcap, Petron Blaze won over San Mig Coffee, 91-78. This game saw the season’s first 20-20 production, and it belonged to super soph June Mar Fajardo, who reeled in 21 points, 25 rebounds, and 4 blocks. The Cebuano slotman continued to showcase his impressive development. He was just unstoppable, and I, for one, am salivating at the thought of seeing a new-and-improved June Mar play for Gilas in the 2014 FIBA World Cup. Should be awesome to see him as Marcus Douthit's chief back-up and understudy in Spain!

The Mixers just got clobbered in the paint tonight. They were outrebounded, 55-41, and their bigs were outplayed by both Fajardo and Arwind Santos. Sure, Marc Pingris and Ian Sangalang formed an interesting combo, and they actually had decent numbers, but both the Kracken and the Spider-man had huge double-doubles. As a result, coach Tim Cone's wards are now 0-3.

For the third straight game, both Marcio Lassiter and Chris Lutz have played extremely well. In this match-up with SMC, Lassiter and Lutz tickled the twine for a combined 29 points. Lutz, too, finished with a double-double, adding 13 assists to his total. The only caveat? Both guys combined for 12 of Petron's 20 turnovers.

Game Recaps:
Ronjay Buenafe scored 27 points, including a sensational layup with 33 seconds left that put Barako Bull for good, to carry his team to a thrilling 97-93 victory over Alaska in their PLDT MyDSL Philippine Cup duel on Sunday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

That acrobatic shot off a spin move was his only two-point field goal of the game. He scored most of his points from long distance, hitting a sizzling 7-of-11 three-point clip.

“Ronjay is capable of scoring 20-plus points and right now he’s really hot,” said Barako Bull coach Bong Ramos.

Buenafe and Mick Pennisi each hit three shots beyond the arc in the final period, keying Barako Bull’s comeback from a 13-point deficit at the end of the third quarter.

The game was still tied at 93-all after an easy basket by Sonny Thoss off an inbound play. Barako Bull set up Buenafe, who evaded three players to score a layup and give his team a 95-93 edge.

In the ensuing play, Alaska moved the ball around and found Aldrech Ramos open for a corner jumper, which rimmed out.

The Aces were forced to foul in the next possession, but JC Intal split his free throws with 15.7 seconds left, giving Alaska one final chance to tie the game.

Cyrus Baguio had a good look, but his three-pointer failed to hit the mark. Willie Miller hit one of two free throws to ice the game.

Barako Bull leaned on balanced scoring, drawing at least eight points from six different players. As a team, Barako Bull caught fire from outside, making 17-of-39 three-pointers for a 43.6 percent clip.

The victory continued Barako Bull’s surprising start, opening the conference with two straight wins.

The loss spoiled another stellar game from Baguio, who finished with 20 points. Thoss (16 points, 10 rebounds) and Gabby Espinas (15 points, 11 rebounds) both finished with double-doubles for Alaska, which lost for the second time in three games to open the tournament.

BAR 97 – Buenafe 27, Isip 12, Jensen 9, Intal 9, Pennisi 9, Miller 8, Macapagal 5, Wilson 4, Villanueva 4, Miranda 4, Labagala 3, Pena 3.
ALA 93 – Baguio 20, Thoss 16, Espinas 15, Casio 12, Jazul 9, Abueva 9, Avenido 4, Ramos 4, Hontiveros 2, Eman 2, Belasco 0, Dela Cruz 0.
QS: 21-16, 44-40, 63-76, 97-93

JV Casio just couldn't rally the Aces past the Energy Cola.

Calvin Abueva jostles for position against
a much taller Mick Pennisi.

Mark Caguioa was back to his usual scoring self, but it was the twin tower combination of Japeth Aguilar and Greg Slaughter who made the biggest difference in Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s 97-84 win over Rain or Shine on Sunday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

“Iba na talaga yung matangkad talaga,” said Ginebra coach Ato Agustin.

The Gin Kings improved its PLDT MyDSL Philippine Cup record to 2-0 while handing the Elasto Painters its first loss in three matches.

Caguioa led Ginebra with 22 points, rebounding from a two-point performance on opening day. His life was made easier by the presence of Aguilar (19 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks) and Slaughter (18 points, 13 rebounds, three blocks), who ruled the pain for the Gin Kings.

“Na-dictate namin yung tempo of the game, we controlled the boards,” said Agustin, whose wards finished with a 53-45 rebounding advantage.

Ginebra started out on fire, taking a 17-point lead right in the first quarter. Rain or Shine kept chipping at the deficit through the next two quarters, coming to within two points, 64-62, on a three-pointer by Beau Belga.

But instead of folding, the Gin Kings responded with a 12-0 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters, and Ginebra kept Rain or Shine at bay the rest of the way.

LA Tenorio also had a stellar game, finishing with 10 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, and five steals for Ginebra.

Ryan Arana led Rain or Shine with 21 points. Rain or Shine rookie Raymond Almazan, picked third overall by the Elasto Painters in the draft, rebounded from a tough debut by posting nine points, nine rebounds, and two steals in 14 minutes of play. He had one of the few above-the-rim highlights for Rain or Shine with a left-handed dunk in Slaughter’s face in the fourth quarter.

GIN 97 - Caguioa 22, Aguilar 19, Slaughter 18, Tenorio 10, Ellis 9, Helterbrand 6, Reyes 5, Ababou 3, Forrester 3, Baracael 2, Monfort 0, Mamaril 0
ROS 84 - Arana 21, Chan 14, Cruz 11, Almazan 9, Belga 8, Nuyles 6, Lee 5, Rodriguez 4, Norwood 3, Quinahan 2, Ibanes 1, Tang 0, Teng 0
QS: 29-19, 48-37, 68-62, 97-84

Mark Caguioa ran rings around the ROS defense all night.

Big Beau Belga tries to counsel the ROS rookies.

MERALCO over AIR21, 112-79
The Meralco Bolts broke into the win column of the PLDT MyDSL Philippine Cup in a big way, showing no mercy in a 112-79 beatdown of the Air 21 Express on Wednesday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

John Wilson sizzled for a career-high 26 points on perfect 6-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc. A former member of the Express, he scored 14 on four three-pointers in a dominant second quarter that saw the Bolts score 38 points to open up a 54-36 halftime lead.

“Incredible performance both offensively and defensively,” said Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio of Wilson, who did all his scoring in just 26 minutes.

The game was over soon after halftime, as Meralco’s starters finished the job by opening up a 30-point lead early in the third quarter.

The Bolts shot the lights out, shooting 13-of-26 from three-point distance for a 50 percent clip. They also did the job on the defensive end, holding Air 21 to just 37 percent shooting from the field.

Meralco shackled Express top gun KG Canaleta, who scored just three points after missing all eight of his three-point attempts. Joseph Yeo and Asi Taulava also struggled, scoring just 10 and six points, respectively.

Sunday Salvacion and Reynel Hugnatan chipped in 15 points apiece for Meralco. Jared Dillinger and Rabeh Al-Hussaini added 13 and 11 points for the Bolts, whose win-loss record improved to 1-2.

“Hopefully, it’s a step toward the right direction for us,” said Gregorio. “We’re not gonna stop here.”

Air 21 dropped its third straight blowout defeat to open the tournament.

MER 112 – Wilson 26, Salvacion 15, Hugnatan 15, Dillinger 13, Al-Hussaini 11, Cortez 8, David 7, Caram 6, Guevarra 6, Omolon 4, Allado 1, Sena 0.
AIR 79 – Ritualo 12, Yeo 10, Menor 8, Sharma 8, Atkins 8, Manuel 8, Custodio 7, Taulava 6, Canaleta 3, Jaime 2, Burtscher 2, Arboleda 2, Camson 2, Espiritu 1.
QS: 16-15, 54-36, 86-55, 112-79

John Wilson broke out big time against Air21.

Joseph Yeo easily evades the defense of Rabeh Al-Hussaini.

June Mar Fajardo scored 21 points, grabbed 25 rebounds, and blocked four shots to power the Petron Blaze Boosters to a 91-78 victory over the San Mig Coffee Mixers on Wednesday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

The win gave the Boosters a measure of revenge after their defeat in the Governors’ Cup finals at the hands of the Mixers last conference, as Petron remained unbeated in the PLDT MyDSL Philippine Cup with its third straight victory.

“In all honesty, with the lack of preparation and all the injuries, we are very lucky to be in this situation right now,” said Petron coach Gee Abanilla.

Fajardo had a double-double at halftime with 10 points and 11 rebounds as Petron opened up a 44-34 lead.

The Mixers opened the third quarter with a 10-1 run behind Marc Pingris, who finished with 16 points and nine rebounds. But Petron got its bearings back in the third quarter behind timely hits from Chico Lanete, who scored all seven of his points in the period in his return from injury.

“We just worked the ball inside-out and it freed our shooters,” said Abanilla.

Reigning PBA Most Valuable Player Arwind Santos had his own monster line of 17 points and 14 rebounds, while Chris Lutz stepped up to handle the quarterbacking duties for Petron with 14 points and 13 assists as the Boosters played without top point guards Alex Cabagnot (plantar fasciitis) and Chris Ross (strained hamstring). Lutz, however, committed nine turnovers in his temporary job as primary ballhandler for the Boosters.

Mark Barroca scored 20 points to lead San Mig Coffee, which lost its third straight game to open the tournament. The Mixers, already missing top guns Joe Devance and Peter June Simon because of injuries, also lost James Yap in the third quarter after hurting his forearm.

The Mixers got solid contributions from rookies Ian Sangalang, who finished with 12 points and nine rebounds, and JR Cawaling, who caught fire with 13 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter to spark a mini-rally for the Mixers.

PET 91 - Fajardo 21, Santos 17, Lassiter 15, Lutz 14, Hubalde 9, Lanete 7, Duncil 4, Kramer 4, Deutchman 0
SMC 78 - Barroca 20, Pingris 16, Cawaling 15, Sangalang 12, Yap 5, Mallari 4, Reavis 4, Holstein 2, De Ocampo 0, Acuna 0.
QS: 17-22, 44-34, 67-59, 91-78

June Mar Fajardo was practically unstoppable in the paint.

Ian Sangalang is one of the rookies to watch this season.

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 Pranz Kaeno Billones and Paul Ryan Tan)

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