2013 PBA Philippine Cup Roundup: December 6-7, 2013

GlobalPort’s veterans, the Lee-thal Weapon, and the Kracken were all under the spotlight in 2013 PBA Philippine Cup action from the past two days.

Sol Mercado led the way as the Batang Pier defanged the Bolts.

In Friday’s opening game, GlobalPort beat Meralco, 93-89, as their two veteran stars, Sol Mercado and Jay Washington, really stepped up in this one, helping their team deal the Meralco Bolts their first loss since November 22. The Sol Train shot 8/13 from the 2-point area to underscore his 33-point explosion. He also added 9 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1 steal to pad his impressive stat-line. His buddy, J-Wash, also did really well, filling up the sheet with 27 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal.

Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio hoped he could rely on his team's outside shooting in the endgame, but he sacrificed a lot of ceilin. In the end, the Bolts just couldn't hold the fort against the bigger Batang Pier. GlobalPort outrebounded Meralco, 52-37, and limited big men Rabeh Al-Hussaini and Don Allado to a combined 14 points and 11 rebounds. Meralco also didn't help itself by letting GlobalPort score 20 points-off-turnovers and 16 fastbreak points.

The Bolts actually outshot the Batang Pier in this one. Meralco made 45% of its threes compared to just 33% for GlobalPort, while coach Ryan Gregorio's wards shot 44% overall from the field. In contrast, coach Richie Ticzon's boys connected on just 41%. Despite this, Meralco ended up losing because, again, they just sacrificed too much size in the endgame. I mean, Jared Dillinger played center in the closing minutes! The ploy just didn't pay off.

In the main game, Rain or Shine defeated San Mig Super Coffee, 86-83. The Lee-thal weapon was the big story in this one. Lee finally broke out of a slump, canning 5 triples on his way to a season-high 26 points. Lee actually made more triples in this game than he had in his first four games combined. Prior to this match, the former UE Red Warrior was shooting a paltry 22% from long range and 32% overall. Against the Mixers, however, Lee shot 10/15 from the field while also adding 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal. Despite the influx of new talent in the Painters' roster, this is the kind of production coach Yeng Guiao wants from one of his top guards.

San Mig Super Coffee ended up with more rebounds, more assists, and fewer turnovers than ROS, but they just couldn't complete their endgame rally because of some key missed shots. In one critical sequence, Mark Barroca had an open lane to the basket, but the overachieving playmaker muffed a high arcing lay-up that would've tied the game. In all, the Mixers shot just 32% from the floor, which negated their +10 FG attempts and their much better FT shooting (76% as opposed to ROS's 53%).

Coach Yeng was struggling to look for a consistent combination of players throughout this game, playing 14 men. The good thing about this? All 14 guys scored. Everyone from Jeff Chan down to Jireh Ibañes scored at least 2 points, and that's pretty significant in a game decided by just 3 points.

In last night’s curtain-raiser, Air21 overcame Barako Bull, 92-77. That 17-0 start was just the thing the Express needed after they dropped their first five assignments of the season. Former UE Red Warrior BonBon Custodio presided over that opening period explosion, while KG Cañaleta and Joseph Yeo wrapped things up in the second half. Custodio ended up with 9 markers, while Cañaleta and Yeo had 19 and 13 respectively.

The Energy Cola wasted an awesome shooting night from rookie sniper Carlo Lastimosa. The former CSB Blazer erupted for 15 points, but even his hot hand was not enough to help Barako Bull overhaul a late double-digit deficit. Usual reliables Ronjay Buenafe and JC Intal paired up for just 13 points in total.

Finally, coach Franz Pumaren's boys nailed a W in the new PBA season. The bemedaled mentor can take heart in the fact his wards played better for almost the entire game, save for a stretch in the second quarter when the Energy Cola trimmed the deficit to just 2 points. I doubt if this means we will see Air21 on a league-rattling winning streak, but this will definitely boost the confidence of the team's veteran core.

In the nightcap, Petron Blaze won scraped past Alaska, 86-85, behind the heroics of June Mar Fajardo. One cannot heave enough accolades to describe the kind of player the sophomore has become in the pros. The Cebuano giant continued to show his vast improvement, making one big play after another as Petron rose to its fifth win in as many games to stay firmly entrenched at the top of the dogpile. The man-child people have dubbed, "The Kracken," had 20 points, 12 rebounds, and 2 blocks in another stellar showing.

Another sophomore, Calvin Abueva, had a brilliant game, albeit for the opposing side. The 2012-2013 Rookie of the Year registered 17 points and 9 boards for the Aces, but an endgame turnover by The Beast helped seal Alaska's fate. It was a controversial sequence, however, as Petron big man Doug Kramer appeared to have bumped Abueva, who lost the ball. There was no call from any of the referees afterwards, which promptly resulted in protestations from Alaska. All I can say is this: break of the game.

Aside from Fajardo, five other players scored 9 or more points for coach Gee Abanilla, whose team is the only one remaining unbeaten at this juncture. Kramer, Pao Hubalde, and Marcio Lassiter tallied 9, 10, and 12 points respectively, while the returning Chris Lutz and reigning MVP Arwind Santos dropped 15 markers each. This is a testament to the kind of depth and balance this Petron roster has. Anybody can score on any given night.

Game Recaps:
In GlobalPort’s first few games, the team’s rookie sensations hogged the headlines.

On Friday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum, it was their veteran stars’ turn to shine.

Sol Mercado scored 33 points while Jay Washington added 27 to lead the GlobalPort Batang Pier to a 93-89 comeback victory over the Meralco Bolts in the PLDT MyDSL Philippine Cup.

The two men combined for 35 of the Batang Pier’s 56 points in the second half, when GlobalPort rallied from a 46-37 halftime deficit to book their second victory in five games.

Coming off back-to-back losses, GlobalPort made adjustments on both sides of the floor.

“We made a conscious effort to share the ball today,” said Mercado, who also had nine rebounds and five assists while also taking on the assignment of guarding Meralco gunner Gary David in the endgame. “We made a conscious effort to play defense.”

According to the hotshot guard, the directive to get after it on the defensive end came from no less than GlobalPort owner Mikee Romero.

“Boss Mikee, he was really mad at us for not playing defense,” said Mercado.

GlobalPort coach Richie Ticzon noted the change in the team’s philosophy before the game.

“We know we have scorers on our team, but we have to put emphasis on our defense,” said Ticzon.

Meralco had such a hard time puncturing the GlobalPort defense down the stretch that coach Ryan Gregorio had not choice but to go small, putting five shooters on the floor — David, Mike Cortez, John Wilson, Jared Dillinger, and Sunday Salvacion — with no big man in the lineup.

While all those players scored in double digits, the ploy backfired as GlobalPort took advantage of the smaller Bolts for key baskets and rebounds down the stretch.

RR Garcia added 12 points and Jondan Salvador had 14 rebounds for GlobalPort, which won the battle of the boards, 52-37. The Batang Pier won despite top scorer Terrence Romeo struggling with just four points, a career-low.

David and Cortez led Meralco with 18 points apiece, while Salvacion and Dillinger added 15 and 13, respectively. Wilson finished with 11 points for Meralco, which saw its two-game winning run snapped for a 2-3 record.

GLO 93 – Mercado 33, Washington 27, Garcia 12, Lingganay 6, Hayes 4, Romeo 4, Salvador 4, Yee 3, Menk 0, Nabong 0, Chua 0, Belencion 0, Salva 0.
MER 89 – David 18, Cortez 18, Salvacion 15, Dillinger 13, Wilson 11, Al-Hussaini 7, Allado 7, Caram 0, Sena 0, Guevarra 0.
QS: 21-22, 37-46, 66-64, 93-89.

GlobalPort's mixture of old reliables and young guns yielded
great results.

Meralco PG Mike Cortez shoots the freebie.

GlobalPort's Richie Ticzon is a see-saw
 first season as head coach.

Rain or Shine squandered an early double-digit lead before waking up in time to turn back San Mig Coffee, 86-83, in PLDT MyDSL Philippine Cup action on Friday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

“We’re just lucky to get away with the win,” said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao.

The game didn’t look like it was going to be a thriller early on, after Paul Lee scored 12 points in the first period that saw the Elasto Painters race to a 12-2 lead to begin the game.

But the Mixers slowly chipped away at the deficit, cutting the Rain or Shine lead to just four points, 38-34, at halftime.

San Mig Coffee even took the lead for an instant, 59-57, late in the third quarter before Rain or Shine regained the upper hand heading into the final period.

But the Mixers wouldn’t just go away, cutting the margin to a single point, 75-74, with less than four minutes left.

With Rain or Shine under fire, Lee nailed a three-pointer off the backboard to beat the shotclock buzzer, a shot that Guiao described as “a lucky shot.”

“That’s really our biggest break,” said Guiao.

That basket touched off an 8-2 run with Lee scoring all the points for the Elasto Painters that gave them an 83-76 lead with just 1:39 to play.

But San Mig Coffee was still not done. Mark Barroca, who finished with 23 points to lead the Mixers, hit a three-pointer to cut the Rain or Shine lead to just four, 83-79, with still 1:08 left.

The Mixers then forced a turnover, which Marc Pingris converted to cut the deficit to a single basket.

Jeff Chan scored two free throws for Rain or Shine, before Pingris hit another basket with 11 seconds remaining.

Gabe Norwood had a chance to ice the game, but he muffed two free throws, giving San Mig Coffee a golden opportunity. But Barroca missed a layup that could have tied the game with four seconds left, and Lee grabbed the rebound off the ring.

The Mixers sent Lee to the line, and the hotshot guard split his free throws. Joe Devance’s desperation shot at the buzzer failed to hit the target, allowing Rain or Shine to escape with the victory.

Lee finished with 26 points on 5-of-9 three-point shooting to break out of his conference-long slump. Chan added 11 points for the Elasto Painters, whose win-loss record improved to 4-1.

Peter June Simon scored 18 points for San Mig Coffee. Marc Pingris (12 points, 12 rebounds) and the returning Joe Devance (11 points, 11 rebounds) each had double-doubles for the Mixers, who lost for the fourth time in five games.

ROS 86 – Lee 26, Chan 11, Arana 7, Tang 6, Teng 6, Norwood 6, Cruz 5, Rodriguez 5, Quinahan 4, Belga 2, Almazan 2, Tiu 2, Nuyles 2, Ibanes 2.
SMC 83 – Barroca 23, Simon 18, Pingris 12, Devance 11, Sangalang 8, Reavis 7, Mallari 4, Acuna 0, Gaco 0, Cawaling 0.
QS: 25-15, 38-34, 62-59, 86-83

Paul Lee went in guns blazing against the Mixers.

AIR21 over BARAKO BULL, 92-77
The Air 21 Express finally broke into the win column after starting the conference with five straight losses as it defeated Barako Bull, 92-77, on Saturday at the PLDT MyDSL PBA Philippine Cup at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

The Express jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter and put the finishing touches in the fourth, where they led by as many as 16 points, 89-73.

KG Canaleta led Air 21 with a game-high 19 points and 10 rebounds while Joseph Yeo and Mac Cardona added 13 apiece.

Yeo scored eight of his total in the fourth period and also had eight boards and six assists in the game.

Air 21 notched its first win in six games while Barako Bull dropped down to 2-3.

Air 21 led 17-10 in the first period behind Bonbon Custodio but Barako Bull charged right back in the second behind a terrific showing from rookie Carlo Lastimosa, who scored seven points in an 11-2 run that got the Energy to within two points, 27-25.

But the Express righted the ship from there, taking a 37-31 lead to the halftime break and adding to it in the third behind a 12-point explosion from Canaleta.

In the fourth, it was Yeo and Wynne Arboleda leading the way as Air 21 left Barako behind.

Arboleda hit back-to-back three-pointers to cap a big 15-5 that made it 89-73 late in the fourth.

“It’s a good win for us. At least we got over the hump,” Air 21 coach Franz Pumaren said after the game.

“The monkey is off our back now, although it was more of a gorilla.”

Pumaren was pleased that his team has shown plenty of improvement, particularly on the defensive end, since the early games.

“The first three games were really horrific. We couldn’t even play defense. We gave up so many points,” the coach said. “But the last three games, we were really able to prove to ourselves that we’re able to play defense.”

Lastimosa had a strong performance, leading Barako Bull with 15 points, including seven in the fourth quarter.

AIR 92 – Canaleta 19, Yeo 13, Cardona 13, Arboleda 12, Manuel 11, Custodio 9, Camson 6, Taulava 5, Espiritu 2, Sharma 2, Matias 0.
BAR 77 – Lastimosa 15, Isip 12, Miller 12, Labagala 10, Buenafe 9, Pennisi 5, Fortuna 4, Intal 4, Macapagal 2, Jensen 2, Wilson 2, Pena 0, Villanueva 0.
QS: 17-10, 37-31, 66-58, 92-77.

Asi Taulava outruns Mark Isip as the Express finally won a game.

June Mar Fajardo scored 20 points, including the final seven for his squad, to help the Petron Blaze Boosters turn back the Alaska Aces, 86-85, in PLDT MyDSL Philippine Cup action on Saturday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

The second-year big man also grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked two shots for Petron, which remained undefeated in the tournament with a 5-0 win-loss record.

“We’re happy that we were able to hold off Alaska even though we missed a lot of free throws in the end,” said Petron coach Gee Abanilla. “I think it was a character win. The players refused to lose.”

It was a nip-and-tuck affair before Marcio Lassiter broke the game’s final 69-all deadlock with a three-pointer halfway through the final period. That shot touched off a 9-0 Petron run for a 78-69 advantage.

But Alaska came charging back, scoring a quick 6-1 run to come within striking distance, 79-75, with little more than two minutes remaining.

The Aces cornered Petron into a broken play in the ensuing possession, with the Boosters forced to call a timeout with two seconds left on the shot clock.

Fajardo came through, nailing a long jumper over Sonny Thoss to beat the buzzer and give his team more breathing room.

“There were only two seconds left so anybody who handles the ball must be ready to attempt,” said Abanilla. “Swerte lang na-i-shoot ni June Mar.”

Fajardo had an answer for every Alaska basket over the next four plays, and the Boosters were still up six points, 85-79, with 1:14.

JVee Casio nailed a three-pointer for the Aces, cutting the deficit to a single possession, 85-82, with less than a minute left.

Alaska then made a stop for a chance to tie the game.

But Abueva turned the ball over with nine seconds left after getting bumped by Doug Kramer, raising howls of protest from the Alaska bench.

Forced to give up a foul, Abueva committed his sixth foul on the next possession to send Fajardo to the stripe anew. The big man split his free throws to give Petron a four-point lead with 7.5 seconds.

RJ Jazul, who led Alaska with 18 points, nailed a three-pointer with 1.8 seconds remaining, pumping life into the Aces’ hopes by cutting the deficit to a single point. Alaska sent Paolo Hubalde to the line, and the lefty guard wilted under pressure, missing both shots.

The Aces were already out of a timeout, but took a technical to get an additional ceasefire. Marcio Lassiter muffed the technical free throw, giving Alaska one last chance to win the game with a second remaining.

But Alaska, having to inbound from the backcourt, could not make a clear pass, allowing the Boosters to escape with the victory.

Chris Lutz and Arwind Santos added 15 points apiece for Petron, while Lassiter and Hubalde had 12 and 10, respectively.

Abueva finished with 17 points and nine rebounds for Alaska, whose win-loss record fell to 2-4.

PET 86 - Fajardo 20, Lutz 15, Santos 15, Lassiter 12, Hubalde 10, Kramer 9, Duncil 3, Lanete 2, Deutchman 0.
ALA 85 - Jazul 18, Abueva 17, Espinas 11, Thoss 9, Baguio 9, Casio 8, Buenafe 3, Belasco 2, Dela Cruz 2, Hontiveros 2, Avenido 2, Exciminiano 2, Ramos 0, Eman 0.
QS: 17-17, 35-37, 56-56, 86-85

Gabby Espinas gets stripped against the D of June Mar Fajardo and Pao Hubalde.

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 AKTV. (Photo credit to Nuki Sabio and Pranz Kaeno Billones)

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