2013-2014 PBA Philippine Cup Roundup: January 15-17, 2014

The 2013-2014 PBA Philippine Cup enjoyed awesome games this past week. This past Wednesda, Rain or Shine escaped with a win after JR Quiñahan hit a game-winning triple with 0.7 seconds to go against Meralco, while the SMC Mixers notched their third straight win after blowing out the reeling Petron Blaze Boosters. Last night, Ginebra and San Mig Super Coffee blasted their respective foes. Consequently, Ginebra cemented the top spot even as SMC formalized its quarterfinals ticket.

Ryan Araña goes up for a circus shot against Cliff Hodge.

In the Wednesday opener, Rain or Shine scraped by Meralco, 89-86.

Anything better than a big guy (and when I say big, I mean JR Quiñahan BIG) hitting a big three (and when I say big three, I mean game-winning BIG) with 0.7 seconds to go? Yeah, thought so.

Once again, starting center Rabeh Al-Hussaini continues to underwhelm for the Bolts. Now that Dunkin' Danny I is on board, one would think Al-Hussaini would learn some new moves, right? Wrong. All that potential in that huge frame better get some awesome production soon, lest the former Ateneo big man go the way of… Samigue Eman?

I know Gabe Norwood isn't exactly the type who'll run the opposition for 20 or 30 points. I mean, his season-high so far is just 13 points, which he scored against TNT in mid-December. Counting this game, he has scored in double-figures in only four out of Rain or Shine's thirteen contests. I know he's there for defense, for hustle, for the intangibles, but I wouldn't mind seeing more plays run for him (that midrange game is killer, after all). Let's go, Gabe! Go and make 'em all pay!

In the Wednesday nightcap, San Mig Super Coffee overcame Petron Blaze, 112-93. The Mixers were at their very best against their sister team here. They shot close to 60% from the field, moved the ball around much better than Petron, and forced 18 Booster turnovers. The Mixers have now won all three of their post-2014 games, and are in the upper half of the standings for the first time this season. With momentum on its side, SMC might be the most dangerous team heading to the end of the elimination round.

It's clear that Petron big man June Mar Fajardo is still struggling to regain the fine form that made him the league's best player before that freak knee injury in practice a few weeks ago. He shot just 25% from the field in this one and struggled to keep someone like Marc Pingris off the glass. I hope the Kracken's real game surfaces soon, lest the Boosters get bounced earlier than expected.

James Yap returned to rule the hardwood. The former UE Red Warrior unloaded 19 points on 7/14 FG shooting here, helping the Mixers nail win #6. The Man with a Million Moves hardly showed signs of the injury that kept him out in San Mig's last game, and he looks really motivated to help his club make a huge run going into the next round.

In Friday’s first game, Ginebra beat GlobalPort, 108-92, thanks to its two dominant big men. Ginebra isn't the only PBA team with a potential twin-tower combo (Rafi Reavis-Yancy De Ocampo anyone?), but, this pairing between Greg Slaughter (apparently, his new nickname is King Gregory) and Japeth Aguilar just has no equal. Coach Ato Agustin has two young and extremely talented bigs at his disposal, with both of them producing at really high levels. In this game, Slaughter raked in a double-double line -- 23 points, 13 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1 block, while Aguilar continued his mind-blowing progression, registering 21 markers, 8 boards, and 2 rejections. With both guys playing so well together, is there any stopping this Ginebra freight train?

On the other end of the floor, the Batang Pier hardly found any answer to the Kings' height and might. Starting frontliners Jondan Salvador and Kelly Nabong combined for 7 points and 6 rebounds. Likewise, Justin Chua and Leo Najorda couldn't do much. The only guy who made a dent was super veteran Eric Menk. Major Pain erupted for his best game of the season so far -- 17 points and 14 rebounds. He more than held his own, but against both Slaughter and Aguilar, even he fell by the wayside.

The Kings accomplished what they set out to do -- nail the top seed as they advance to the quarterfinals. Their prospective opponents include the Energy Cola, Bolts, Batang Pier, or Aces, and it will be interesting to see which team gets to match-up with the Kings' balanced roster. Needless to say, Ginebra is not only the favorite to advance to the semis, but the favorite to dethrone Talk N Text as the Philippine Cup champion.

In last night’s main game, San Mig Super Coffee outran and outplayed Talk N Text, 100-87.

Well what do you know? The Mixers have won four straight, are now at .500 in the team standings, and have just arranged a best-of-three quarterfinal match-up with their victims, the Tropang Texters. SMC had a crazy slow start to the season, going 3-7 before the new year, but they seem to have found their groove and are now a major threat heading into the knockout rounds. San Mig's record might no show it, but this is a dark horse for the title.

With Kelly Williams, Harvey Carey, and Ryan Reyes all in street clothes, it was clear that TNT was undermanned and overmatched. Even with four Gilas players in tow -- Jimmy Alapag, Jayson Castro, Larry Fonacier, and Ranidel De Ocampo, -- coach Norman Black couldn't really find a way for the Texters to get over the hump and defeat the Mixers. TNT outrebounded the taller Mixers, 57-48, but they shot just 37% from the field. There were six Texters in double-digits, but they allowed SMC to shoot 44% from beyond the arc. TNT also turned the ball over 6 more times, which led to 13 points-off-turnovers for San Mig.

Five Mixers ended up with 10 points or more, and every single player coach Tim Cone fielded scored at least 4 markers. Now THAT is balance. PJ Simon continued to torch the net here, scoring 19 points on 6/10 FG shooting while also grabbing 3 rebounds and handing out 3 assists. Yes, James Yap is back, but it's pretty clear that Simon has recently been the Mixers' number one shooting guard. He has been sensational in the new year, averaging 18.5 points as SMC has gone 4-0.

Game Recaps:
JR Quinahan hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to lift the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters to a thrilling 89-86 triumph over the Meralco Bolts on Wednesday at SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

“Alam ko kasi quick release si JR eh,” said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao in jest after the game.

The victory preserved the Elasto Painters’ winning streak, which now stands at six games for a 10-3 win-loss record.

Rain or Shine controlled most of the game while Meralco kept within striking distance. The Elasto Painters opened up a 77-70 lead in the fourth quarter. But the Bolts came back to tie the game at 86-all on a three-pointer by Gary David with 8.6 seconds remaining.

Paul Lee missed a shot in the ensuing possessing for Rain or Shine, but John Wilson could not control the rebound, giving the Elasto Painters seven-tenths of a second left for a shot.

That was enough time for Quinahan to nail the game-winner.

“I just felt one great shot deserves another,” said Guiao about David and Quinahan’s final exchange. “Kumbaga, one chamba deserves another.”

Jeff Chan led Rain or Shine with 16 points while Lee added 14. But both men struggled from beyond the arc, combining for 3-of-16 (18.8 percent) shooting from that distance.

Gabe Norwood added 10 points for the Elasto Painters, who remained in the hunt for one of the top two seeds in the playoffs, which would come with twice-to-beat advantage in the playoffs.

Guiao acknowledged that his team was the hottest in the league, but admitted that it comes with tremendous pressure.

“Sometimes we don’t really relish that label,” said Guiao. “We just want to keep winning so we can salvage that twice-to-beat advantage.”

It was the second game this conference that Meralco lost on a buzzer-beating three-pointer. Last December 28, Japeth Aguilar also made a game-winner at the buzzer to lift Barangay Ginebra San Miguel over the Bolts.

Gary David had 25 points and eight rebounds for Meralco, which saw its two-game winning run snapped to fall to 5-8. John Wilson added 12 points, while both Reynel Hugnatan and Jared Dillinger finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Bolts.

ROS 89 - Chan 16, Lee 14, Norwood 10, Cruz 8, Belga 7, Almazan 7, Ibanes 7, Rodriguez 6, Quiñahan 5, Nuyles 4, Teng 3, Tiu 2, Arana 0, Tang 0
MER 86 - David 25, Wilson 12, Hugnatan 11, Dillinger 11, Salvacion 8, Artadi 6, Al-Hussaini 5, Ildefonso 4, Hodge 4, Guevarra 0
QS: 23-21, 45-45, 70-64, 89-86

El Granada pulls up from long distance!

JR Quiñahan's game-winning trey was the
highlight of the night.

The San Mig Super Coffee Mixers rolled past the Petron Blaze Boosters, 112-93, on Wednesday at SMART-Araneta Coliseum for their third straight victory in the PLDT MyDSL Philippine cup.

“It was just our night tonight,” said San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone, whose team shot 57 percent from the field while holding Petron to 38 percent. “Everything came together for us.”

Usually a deliberate halfcourt team, the Mixers sprung a run-and-gun attack that confounded the Boosters all game long. San Mig Coffee scored 22 fastbreak points, turning the tables on Petron.

“We wanted to run off our defense,” said Cone. “We didn’t say before the game, let’s run. But I’d like to think we’re an opportunistic team that can run.

“We had plenty of opportunities to run tonight.”

San Mig Coffee opened the game on fire, taking a 25-12 lead after the first quarter. The Mixers led by as much as 23 points, 43-20, in the second period.

The rest of the game was a stroll for San Mig Coffee, which improved its win-loss record to 6-7. It has been a big turnaround for the Mixers, who opened the tournament with a 1-5 record.

Peter June Simon led San Mig Coffee with 20 points, while James Yap and Mark Barroca chipped in 19 points apiece for the Mixers, who have yet to lose a game in 2014.

Rookie Ian Sangalang had 13 points while Marc Pingris and Joe Devance posted 12 each. Pingris added 15 rebounds for the Mixers.

Marcio Lassiter scored 20 points while Chris Lutz finished with 18 for the Boosters. Arwind Santos had 12 points and 12 rebounds while June Mar Fajardo finished with 11 and 12 for Petron, whose record dropped to 9-4.

It was a costly defeat for the Boosters as they fell a game behind Rain or Shine in the standings, leaving it out of the top two spots, which come with a twice-to-beat bonus in the quarterfinals.

The Mixers will wrap up their elimination round campaign on Friday against Talk ‘N Text, with Cone gunning for a win that will move them into the top six to avoid a twice-to-win disadvantage in the playoffs.

With the playoffs approaching, San Mig Coffee is finally playing its best basketball of the conference.

“It’s a team to reckon with, this San Mig Coffee team,” said Cone. “Hopefully we can continue to build on this.”

SMC 112 - Simon 20, Barroca 19, Yap 19, Sangalang 13, Devance 12, Pingris 12, Mallari 7, Reavis 4, De Ocampo 2, Gaco 2, Melton 2, Cawaling 0
PET 93 - Lassiter 20, Lutz 18, Santos 12, Fajardo 11, Cabagnot 9, Kramer 8, Tubid 4, Ross 4, Marata 3, Duncil 2, Deutchman 2, Taha 0, Lanete 0, Hubalde 0
QS: 25-12, 50-35, 79-62, 112-93

Arwind Santos challenges the trees of SMC.

James Yap flashes his signature form.

PJ Simon has been dropping those
points like there's no tomorrow.

Barangay Ginebra San Miguel sealed its place as the top team in the eliminations of the PLDT MyDSL Philippine Cup with an 108-92 trouncing of GlobalPort on Friday at SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

Twin towers Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar once again led the way for the Gin Kings.

Slaughter finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds to pace Ginebra. Aguilar added 21 points and eight rebounds in just 24 minutes after getting into early foul trouble.

“Maganda yung transition namin at saka yung rebounding namin, OK,” said Ginebra coach Ato Agustin.

Ginebra improved its win-loss record to 11-2, and are assured of the top seed in the quarterfinals no matter what happens in their final assignment on Sunday against Talk ‘N Text.

The Gin Kings last finished No. 1 in the eliminations in the 2006-07 Philippine Cup, which was also the last time they won the all-Filipino title.

Mac Baracael chipped in 18 points, while Mark Caguioa and Chris Ellis scored 11 apiece. LA Tenorio rounded out the long list of double-figure scorers for Ginebra with 10 points, apart from adding 11 assists.

With Ginebra firmly ensconced at the top of the playoff bracket, Agustin said the team has no preference when it comes to quarterfinals matchups, where the Gin Kings enjoy twice-to-beat advantage.

“Kahit na sino matapat sa amin,” said Agustin. “We just have to continue what we’re doing. Hindi pwedeng maging overconfident.”

With its last game against the Tropang Texters a no-bearing affair, Agustin said the team would use that as a way to try to carry momentum for the playoffs.

“Lalaruin pa rin namin yun… to build our confidence,” said Agustin.

Sol Mercado led the fight for the Batang Pier with 20 points and 10 assists. Former Ginebra star Eric Menk had a vintage performance of 17 points and 14 rebounds for GlobalPort, which finished its elimination round campaign at 5-9.

The Batang Pier are still not assured of a playoff slot; a win by Meralco over Petron on Saturday and by Alaska over Barako Bull on Sunday would leave GlobalPort having to figure in a playoff for the final quarterfinal ticket.

GIN 108 – Slaughter 23, Aguilar 21, Baracael 18, Ellis 11, Caguioa 11, Tenorio 10, Reyes 8, Helterbrand 2, Monfort 2, Mamaril 2, Ababou 0, Urbiztondo 0.
GLO 92 – Mercado 20, Menk 17, Ponferrada 16, Romeo 13, Garcia 9, Nabong 7, Hayes 6, Chua 2, Salva 2, Belencion 0, Najorda 0, Salvador 0.
QS: 28-20, 58-49, 80-73, 108-92.

Apple David. Wow.

Greg Slaughter has been unstoppable for the Kings.

Terrence Romeo sizes up Josh Uribiztondo.

The San Mig Super Coffee Mixers continued their rampage in 2014, fashioning out a 100-87 victory over the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters on Friday at SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

Their fourth straight win improved the Mixers’ record in the PLDT MyDSL Philippine Cup to an even 7-7, an amazing turnaround for the team that began the tournament at 1-5.

“Our goal was to get back at .500,” said San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone. “For me, that’s a real nice accomplishment by these guys.”

The result set up a best-of-three quarterfinals showdown between the two teams, which are bound to finish at No. 4 and No. 5 at the end of the elimination round. The only question will be the higher seed, which will depend on the outcome of the Tropang Texters’ final assignment on Sunday against Ginebra.

Peter June Simon once again led the way for the Mixers, finishing with 19 points. Mark Barroca added 16 points, seven assists, and four steals for San Mig Coffee, which controlled most of the game before opening up a double-digit spread in the fourth quarter.

Joe Devance added 14 points, Rafi Reavis chipped in 12, and James Yap had 10 for the Mixers, who looked revitalized after a lethargic start to the tournament.

“Energy level is much higher. Guys are really moving the ball well,” said Cone. “It’s a lot of fun to watch.”

Despite the win, Cone warned that San Mig Coffee should encounter a much tougher Talk ‘N Text side in the playoffs.

“We’re gonna have to figure out how to beat these guys two more times,” said Cone.

“There was a lot more at stake for us in this game… Next time around, the stakes are gonna be the same for each team.”

Jayson Castro carried the fight for Talk ‘N Text with 21 points, while Ranidel De Ocampo added with 14 points, 11 rebounds, and four assists.

Larry Fonacier and Jimmy Alapag had 12 points apiece for the Tropang Texters. Regulars Kelly Williams, Ryan Reyes, Noy Baclao, and Harvey Carey all missed the game for Talk ‘N Text, which has lost its last three games, including four in its last five.

SMC 100 - Simon 19, Barroca 16, Devance 14, Reavis 12, Yap 10, Pingris 9, Sangalang 6, Mallari 5, Melton 5, De Ocampo 4
TNT 87 - Castro 21, De Ocampo 14, Fonacier 12, Alapag 12, Peek 11, Seigle 10, Anthony 3, Reyes Rob 2, Aban 2, Reyes J. 0
QS: 26-21, 52-44, 75-68, 100-87

Jayson Castro gets clobbered on the way up.

Marc Pingris rises for the baby hook.

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 Sports 5. (Photo credit to Paolo Papa & Paul Ryan Tan)

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