2013 PBA Philippine Cup Roundup: December 28-29, 2013

The PBA ended 2013 with a great weekend of Philippine Cup basketball. Japeth Aguilar rose to the occasion in Ginebra’s nail-biter win over Meralco and Petron Blaze bucked the absence of June Mar Fajardo to upend TNT this past Saturday. A day after, Barako Bull used a strong finishing kick to derail GlobalPort, while Rain or Shine had an easier-than-expected win over San Mig Coffee.

Chris Ellis rises for a huge slamma jamma to end 2013
for the Ginebra Gin Kings.
(image by Mandy Mangubat/The Benchwarmers)

In the weekend’s curtain-raiser, Ginebra slipped by Meralco, 83-82, thanks to the late-game heroics of Japeth Aguilar the MAN. Yes, MAN. He is now a MAN among boys. The way he has been playing so far? Wow. He has just been on a completely different level. In tis game, the former Western Kentucky Hilltopper struggled from the field, shooting just 7/15, but he made up for it with 11 rebounds and 4 big blocks. He scored a total of 15 markers, 7 of which came in the endgame when Ginebra went on a critical 10-3 run. No basket was more important than Aguilar's game-winning three with one-tenth of a second to go. Aguilar received a pass from LA Tenorio at the wings, dribbled once to his left, stepped back to get some separation from Reynel Hugnatan, and then let it fly. The shot was true, and then pandemonium!

Meralco was the better team for most of this game as the Bolts seemed like they had the Kings all figured out. Like their previous encounter, which Meralco won, the Bolts utilized quickness and tenacious defense to stifle the Kings' height advantage. They held actually held a 6-point lead with about 90 seconds to go, but key misses from the line and a pair of late threes from Jay-R Reyes and Aguilar sent Meralco to its seventh loss of the conference. Mike Cortez and John Wilson combined for 5 free throw misses in that span, which paved the way for Ginebra's improbable comeback from the grave.

Top overall pick Greg Slaughter recorded a nifty double-double performance here, which was in stark contrast to how he performed the first time Ginebra played Meralco this season. The former King Eagle scored 17 points on 7/13 FG shooting while also grabbing 11 rebounds and blocking 3 shots. He got the better of his match-up with another former Atenean, Rabeh Al-Hussaini, who missed all his field goals and finished with 0 points.

In the second game, Petron Blaze overcame Talk N Text, 105-91. June Mar Fajardo, currently the player with the highest efficiency rating in the league, missed his second straight game of the season due to a knee injury, but his absence hardly mattered, even against the three-peat Philippine Cup champs. Without its star center, Petron leaned on wing duo Marcio Lassiter and Chris Lutz to defeat the Texters. Lassiter scored 10 of his team-high 22 points in a pivotal third quarter where the Boosters outscored TNT, 31-12. Lutz, for his part, continued his strong play this conference, dropping 16 points with 8 rebounds, and 5 assists.

Even without having to contend with Fajardo, Talk N Text struggled big time in the paint. The Texters were outrebounded in this one, 58-47, allowing 5 Boosters to collect 6 rebounds or more. TNT's starting frontline didn't shoot well against Petron's depleted frontcourt. Ranidel De Ocampo, Kelly Williams, and Sean Anthony combined to shoot 7/24 from the floor, totaling 14 points in a combined 69 minutes.

Last season's MVP was this game's most valuable big man, too. Arwind Santos tossed in 19 points, shooting 8/19 from the field on top of 9 boards and 2 rejections.  He relished having the paint all to himself here, and he was at his vintage best. Hey, maybe not having June Mar isn't all too bad?

In yesterday’s opener, Barako Bull defeated GlobalPort, 108-95. I don't think I can remember the last time I saw Dorian Peña play this well and motivated. The journeyman center recorded 15 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 block, shooting 6/10 from the field to lead the Energy Cola to only their fourth win in eleven games. He's actually had a couple of good games prior to this one, averaging 12.5 point and 11 rebounds in Barako's last two encounters. The former Coppin State standout has been having a renaissance of sorts, putting up his best numbers since the 2008-2009 season.

GlobalPort went to Terrence Romeo a lot in this ecounter, and, suffice to say, it didn't really pay off. Romeo did end up with 16 points, but he shot 5/13 from the field. Put that together with Sol Mercado's 3/17 and RR Garcia's 3/14 FG shooting, and, well it doesn't really take a cum laude to know the Batang Pier were butt-awful from the floor.

Despite the loss, Jay Washington produced another great performance. The former Petron Blaze Booster shot 13/22 from the field on his way to a game-high 30 points on top of 9 rebounds, 6 assists, and 1 block. J-Wash has been having an awesome first conference so far, averaging about 20 points and 11 rebounds, making more than 1 trey per game and shooting 82% from the line. His player efficiency rating (EFF) is 42.61, which is a career-high. That's the third-highest EFF so far in the season, right behind former teammate June Mar Fajardo and Ginebra's Japeth Aguilar. Clearly, Washington is far from being washed out.

In last night’s main offering, Rain or Shine ran roughshod over San Mig Coffee, 101-77.

#BreakoutGame. Raymond Almazan, after averaging just 2 points and 4 rebounds in his last five games, broke out in a big way here, scoring 17 points, grabbing 11 rebounds, and blocking 2 shots as the Painters ended 2013 on a high note. Almazan was aggressive often and early, playing a season-high 24 minutes. He shot 5/7 from the field and 7/11 from the line to pad his scoring total. Even with Marc Pingris back in action, the Mixers couldn't contain the 6'7 rookie center out of Letran College. Two other ROS bigs, JR Quiñahan and Jervy Cruz, also gave SMC headaches, combining for 24 points and 18 rebounds.

The Mixers fell behind early in the game and never really recovered. They shot just 35% from the field, including 21% from beyond the arc. They turned the ball over 23 times, too, which is just unacceptable at this level of competition. Joe Devance, James Yap, Justin Melton, and JR Cawaling each turned the ball over at least three times. The result? 23 points-off-turovers for the Painters, who seemed hungrier to end the year with a bang.

Utilizing fluid ball movement and accurate sniping, coach Yeng Guiao's boys were at their very best here. ROS totaled 30 assists by game's end, with Ryan Araña's 7 dimes leading the way. Four other guys finished with at least 3 assists for the Painters, which underscored their sublime playmaking. To complement this, they also shot the lights out from long range. Coach Yeng's wards connected on 13 of their 27 three-point attempts, which was good for a near-50% success rate. Jeff Chan, Paul Lee, and Quiñahan combined for 11 of those triples.

Game Recaps:
Japeth Aguilar nailed the game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer to lift Barangay Ginebra San Miguel to a pulsating 83-82 comeback victory over the Meralco Bolts on Saturday at Mall of Asia Arena.

The high-flying forward scored seven points in a 10-3 windup to end the game as the Gin Kings stole the win to improve their record to a league-best 9-1 in the PLDT MyDSL Philippine Cup.

“Let’s give credit to Meralco,” said Ginebra coach Ato Agustin. “They played great especially on defense. Siguro yung breaks sa end napunta sa amin.”

Ginebra was in serious trouble late in the game after Reynel Hugnatan’s three-point play over Greg Slaughter with 2:48 left broke a 73-all deadlock.

Jared Dillinger followed that up with a jumper, before Slaughter was called for a foul on Mike Cortez from beyond the arc.

But the Meralco point guard could only make one of three attempts from the free throw line, giving the Bolts a 79-73 edge with 1:30 left.

Aguilar scored on a putback dunk four seconds later, which was answered by a Dillinger basket. Another jumper by Aguilar kept the Gin Kings within striking distance, 81-77, with 55 seconds remaining.

Ginebra got a stop in the ensuing possession, but Aguilar missed a three-pointer to cut the lead. The Gin Kings fouled Meralco guard John Wilson, who could only manage a split from the line to give the Bolts an 82-77 edge with 15.1 seconds remaining.

The Gin Kings set up Jay-R Reyes for a crucial three-point shot with 12 seconds left to come within a single possession, and Mark Caguioa quickly fouled Wilson.

“Ang crucial dun yung kay Jay-R talaga,” said Agustin.

The former Jose Rizal University guard had a chance to ice the game, but he muffed both free throws to give Ginebra the final possession for Aguilar’s big shot.

It was Aguilar’s second game-winning three-pointer this season for Ginebra after a similar shot against Talk ‘N Text last December 8.

Despite the win, Agustin acknowledged his team’s struggles against Meralco, which is the only team that has beaten the Gin Kings in the tournament.

“Siguro yung quickness kung minsan,” said Agustin, noting the Gin Kings’ matchup problems. “At saka magaling mag-scout si (Meralco) coach (Ryan) Gregorio.”

Slaughter led Ginebra with 17 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks, while Aguilar finished with 15, 11, and four.

Mac Baracael chipped in 14 points while LA Tenorio stuffed the stat sheet wth 13 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists.

Dillinger led Meralco with 16 points, while Hugnatan and Wilson added 13 and 12, respectively for the Bolts, who lost their fourth straight game to fall to a 3-7 record.

GIN 83 - Slaughter 17, Aguilar 15, Baracael 14, Tenorio 13, Ellis 7, Caguioa 6, Urbiztondo 5, Reyes 3, Monfort 2, Helterbrand 1, Mamaril 0.
MER 82 - Dillinger 16, Hugnatan 13, Wilson 12, David 9, Cortez 8, Caram 6, Sena 6, Allado 6, Guevarra 3, Hodge 3, Al-Hussaini 0.
QS: 27-22, 40-40, 59-60, 83-82

Japeth Aguilar was the big news of the night after hitting
the game-winning trey against Meralco.

Reynel Hugnatan challenges the imposing Ginebra frontline.

The Petron Blaze Boosters have adjusted quickly to life without June Mar Fajardo, fashioning out a 105-91 victory over the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters on Saturday at Mall of Asia Arena.

The 6-foot-10 star center missed his second straight game, but that hardly mattered as Petron used a blistering third quarter for its eighth victory in 10 games in the PLDT MyDSL Philippine Cup.

“We played a better defensive job in the second half. We did a better job of being aggressive defensively,” said Petron coach Gee Abanilla, who admitted that the team underwent major adjustments because of the absence of Fajardo.

“We just found a way. Hopefully, we can build on it.”

Petron had lost its last two assignments, with the latest defeat coming against Barangay Ginebra San Miguel without Fajardo because of an injured knee.

Talk ‘N Text looked ready to pounce of Petron early, building a 13-point lead in the first half.

The Boosters clawed back steadily, cutting the deficit to just seven points, 52-45, at halftime.

Then all hell broke loose for Petron in the third quarter, when it scored 31 points while holding Talk ‘N Text to just 12 points. Marcio Lassiter scored 10 of his team-high 22 points in that period.

Petron held a 76-64 spread heading into the final quarter, and never led by less than a double-digit margin the rest of the way.

Arwind Santos added 19 points and nine rebounds while Chris Lutz chipped in 16 and eight. Alex Cabagnot finished with 12 points and 10 assists for Petron, which welcomed back Ronald Tubid from injury. The fiery guard had eight points and 10 rebounds in his first game back from a knee ailment.

Jayson Castro led the fight with 23 points for Talk ‘N Text, which saw its three-game winning run snapped as its record fell to 6-3. Larry Fonacier added 19 points, but scored just two in the second half.

PET 105 - Lassiter 22, Santos 19, Lutz 16, Cabagnot 12, Tubid 8, Kramer 8, Taha 6, Deutchman 6, Lanete 4, Duncil 2, Ross 2.
TNT 91 - Castro 23, Fonacier 19, De Ocampo 12, Seigle 10, Reyes J. 7, Baclao 4, Poligrates 4, Carey 4, Aban 2, Williams 2, Anthony 2, Alapag 2, Celiz 0.
QS: 17-27, 45-52, 76-64, 105-91

Reigning MVP Arwind Santos gets an easy basket.

Marcio Lassiter stepped up big time for the Boosters.

Barako Bull bucked a slow start and ended with a powerful finishing kick for a 108-95 victory over GlobalPort on Sunday at Mall of Asia Arena.

Before the game, Barako Bull coach Bong Ramos had a simple message for his team.

“We approached Christmas with a win,” he told his players before tipoff, referring to Barako Bull’s win over Meralco on December 22. “Let’s approach New Year with a bang.”

They did just that against the Batang Pier as seven players scored at least nine points for Barako Bull. Denok Miranda led the way with 19 points, while the center tag team of Dorian Pena and Mick Pennisi added 15 and 14 points, respectively.

Carlo Lastimosa added 12 points, Keith Jensen chipped in 11, Mark Isip had 10, and JC Intal finished with nine for Barako Bull, which improved its win-loss record in the PLDT MyDSL Philippine Cup to 4-7.

“It’s a must-win game, and I’m happy because they responded,” said Ramos. “At least we finished 2013 with a win.”

GlobalPort came out firing, taking a 13-point lead late in the first quarter, 29-16, behind 13 points from Jay Washington in the period. But Barako Bull whittled down the deficit steadily over the next two periods before finally taking an 82-79 edge heading into the final quarter.

Barako Bull began the fourth period with six straight points to open up an 88-79 edge.

The Batang Pier were still in striking distance trailing 91-87 when Barako Bull unleashed a 17-4 blast. That put GlobalPort away for good as Barako Bull opened up its largest advantage, 108-91.

Washington finished with 30 points to lead GlobalPort, although he only managed to score two in the fourth quarter. Terrence Romeo added 16 points while Sol Mercado had 13 for GlobalPort, which lost its third straight game as its record dropped to 4-6.

BAR 108 - Miranda 19, Pena 15, Pennisi 14, Lastimosa 12, Jensen 11, Isip 10, Intal 9, Miller 7, Macapagal 6, Maierhofer 3, Wilson 2, Buenafe 0.
GLO 95 - Washington 30, Romeo 16, Mercado 12, Garcia 8, Nabong 7, Hayes 6, Yee 4, Chua 4, Salva 4, Lingganay 2, Menk 2, Revilla 0, Salvador 0.
QS: 21-29, 50-49, 82-79, 108-95

Denok Miranda gets smothered by GlobalPort rookies
Justin Chua (L) and RR Garcia (R).

Sol Mercado tries to split the Barako Bull D.

The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters put on an early fireworks ahead of the New Year for an easy 101-77 victory over the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers in the last PBA game for 2013 on Sunday at Mall of Asia Arena.

“We just gifted ourselves with a New Year’s gift,” said Elasto Painters coach Yeng Guiao.

Rain or Shine dominated from start to finish, beginning the game with a 27-17 lead after the first quarter before cruising the rest of the way. The game was over by halftime as the Elasto Painters opened up a 57-34 spread.

Rookie Raymond Almazan had the best game of his young PBA career with 17 points, 11 rebounds, and two blocks in just 24 minutes.

“It was a great time for our rookies, but Jeric Teng got injured early,” said Guiao. “Raymond and Alex (Nuyles) I think are getting into the rhythm of the PBA brand of game.”

Nuyles had six points in 17 minutes for Rain or Shine, which won its third straight game for a 7-3 record.

The Elasto Painters did it by shooting the lights out from beyond the arc, where they went 13-of-27 (48.1 percent). That opened things up for the whole team, as five players scored in double figures for Rain or Shine.

“We were shooting great tonight,” said Guiao, who drew 15 points apiece from top guns Jeff Chan and Paul Lee.

James Yap led the fight for San Mig Coffee with 16 points, while Joe Devance added 14. It was a frustrating night for the Mixers, as coach Tim Cone openly stopped coaching the team during large chunks of the game. That left top assistant Jeffrey Cariaso to call the shots for San Mig Coffee, which lost its second straight game to drop to a 3-7 record.

But nothing San Mig Coffee tried seemed to work, as the team shot just 35 percent from the field and committed 23 turnovers.

“We also caught San Mig Coffee on a night when I felt they were mentally down,” said Guiao. “The ability, the talent is still there, but I don’t think they were there mentally from the beginning.”

ROS 101 - Almazan 17, Chan 15, Lee 15, Quinahan 12, Cruz 12, Rodriguez 7, Nuyles 6, Tiu 4, Tang 4, Norwood 4, Arana 3, Ibanes 2, Teng 0.
SMC 77 - Yap 16, Devance 14, Simon 9, Pingris 8, Reavis 8, Barroca 6, Cawaling 5, Acuna 3, Gaco 3, Sangalang 2, Melton 2, Mallari 1, De Ocampo 0, Holstein 0.
QS: 27-17, 57-34, 78-58, 101-77

Joe Devance tries to exploit the mismatch against Paul Lee.

Raymond Almazan broke out in a huge way for the Painters.

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

Images: Unless otherwise specified, images are from the PBA and GMANews. (Photo credit to KC Cruz)

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