2013-2014 PBA Philippine Cup Roundup: January 18-19, 2014

The 2013-2014 PBA Philippine Cup closed its elimination round this past weekend with four great games. Last Saturday, Petron and Rain or Shine formalized their places for the quarterfinals after disposing of the Bolts and Express respectively. Just a day afterwards, Alaska kept its hopes of making the quarterfinals alive after beating Barako Bull, while the Texters were relentless in blowing out the Gin Kings in the nightcap.

In the Saturday curtain-raiser, Petron Blaze overcame Meralco, 96-87, as June Mar Fajardo regained his bearings and reclaimed his dominant position among the PBA’s young stars. The Kracken went toe-to-toe with his former mentor, Danny Ildefonso, in this game, and the youngster impressed a lot. Fajardo shot 6/9 from the field on his way to 19 points on top of FIFTEEN rebounds, and 2 assists. And, get this, the Gilas back-up big man played just 27 minutes. If that ain’t efficient, I don’t know what is.

June Mar Fajardo made the most of his 27 minutes
on the floor for Petron Blaze.

On the other end, Ildefonso’s current project, Rabeh Al-Hussaini, was a veritable non-factor. The former Ateneo center started the game, but played just 7 minutes. He logged 0 points and only 2 rebounds. Al-Hussaini was expected to be a solid contributor for Meralco this conference, but the way he’s playing, he might as well be relegated to the doghouse. After a promising start to the season (he had four double-doubles up until December 22, 2013), he has really dropped his production. He’s norming just 1 points and 4 rebounds per game in the Bolts’ last five contests.

Chris Ross probably thought, “Yeah, Meralco, this is what you’re missing now,” when he dropped 18 points on his former team. Ross, who is normally more of a pass-first point guard, wasn’t gun-shy here. He shot 8/13 from the field as the Boosters cemented a top three finish to close the elims.

In the main attraction two nights ago, Rain or Shine coasted over Air 21, 104-94.

This is what’s so amazing about the system coach Yeng Guiao has in place at ROS — he preaches and practices balance. It’s a no-superstar system, and it showed like starlight in this game. Ten Elasto-Painters scored 7 or more points here, with rookies Raymond Almazan, Jeric Teng, and Alex Nuyles leading the way. ROS played splendidly, leading 11-0 to start the game and never really looking back as they iced the last twice-to-beat advantage in the next round of the conference.

The Express enjoyed relatively healthy production from its starting five, but the bench left much to be desired. Out of eight guys fielded by coach Franz Pumaren off the pine, only two guys scored — BonBon Custodio and Mac Cardona. They paired up for all ten of Air 21’s bench points. That means 84 out of Air 21’s 94-point total came from the starting unit, which might not have been much of a big deal had they won. But, as you already know, they didn’t.

With its rookie trio leading the way, ROS looked like absolutely solid in this game. Coach Yeng Guiao quipped postgame that he wanted to give his greenhorns much needed experience in preparation for the tough battles in the knockout rounds, and, boy, did his rookies deliver. Almazan was 2 boards shy of a double-double (13 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 blocks), Nuyles was aggressive on both ends (13 points on 5/7 FG shooting, 4 boards, 1 steal, and 1 block), and Teng was on-target (13 points along with 7 rebounds and 2 triples).

In last night’s the opener, Alaska overcame Barako Bull, 89-80. JV Casio and Gabby Espinas stepped up big time for the Aces, who bought themselves at least one more game with this big victory. Casio dropped 24 points, while Espinas scored 21 as Alaska forced a do-or-die match against the Meralco Bolts for the eighth and last quarterfinal spot. The Aces, however, have yet to win back-to-back this season, so their backs are really against the wall.

Denok Miranda, who has generally been solid in this conference, shot horribly against Alaska. Miranda shot just 1/4 from the field, finishing with 2 points in 26 minutes. He did hand out 7 assists, but it was clear the Energy Cola missed his scoring. Prior to this encounter, the former FEU Tamaraw had scored in double-digits in his last 7 games.

 “The Boss” Sonny Thoss struggled big time in this crucial encounter. Arguably one of the best centers in the country, Thoss shot just 3/8 from the field to finish with 6 points and 6 rebounds in 33 minutes. He came off the bench as 6’10 Sam Eman started. To compound things, Thoss also turned the ball over three times .

In Sunday’s second match, Talk N Text blasted Ginebra, 103-79.

What a way to end the elimination round. The Tropang Texters, despite knowing full well that this wa sa no-bearing contest, were pedal to the metal, grounding and pounding the league-leading Gin Kings from start to finish. “Dynamite” Danny Seigle was in vintage form here, shooting 8/13 from the floor to score a total of 20 points. He also added 7 rebounds and 1 steal in a sterling effort. Despite the game not having any bearing on the standings or quarterfinal pairings, it was still a good win that gave TNT much-needed momentum on the way to the knockout rounds.

The Kings were just out of it here. They had fewer rebounds, fewer assists, more turnovers, and a much lower FG% (39.5%). Only two guys scored in double-figures — Greg Slaughter and Mark Caguioa. Erstwhile best player Japeth Aguilar raked in a measly 6-point total in 22 minutes, though one may argue he was being preserved for the more important games ahead.

TNT shot really well from long distance, making 11 of its 24 three-point attempts. That’s good for 45.8%, which, in this league, definitely means a team is on-target. Jimmy Alapag led the way, making all but one of his 6 three-point tries. Ranidel De Ocampo also did well, connecting thrice, while Jai Reyes came off the bench to drill in a pair of trifectas. If the Texters can continue to shoot this well, then they have a good chance of nabbing game 1 against the SMC Mixers in the quarterfinals.

Game Recaps:
June Mar Fajardo aced his test against his former teacher Danny Ildefonso on Saturday at SMART-Araneta Coliseum, leading his Petron Blaze Boosters to an easy 96-87 victory over the Meralco Bolts.

Fajardo overcame a shaky start against Ildefonso, the man he considers his teacher, before finishing with 19 points and 15 rebounds in just 27 minutes for Petron, which finished its elimination round campaign in the PLDT Home DSL Philippine Cup with a 10-4 win-loss record.

The Boosters can still be in a playoff for the second seed, which has a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals, but only in Rain or Shine loses its match against lowly Air 21 in Saturday’s second game.

Ildefonso, playing against his former team for the first time, posted vintage numbers of 17 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and five blocks. But it wasn’t enough for the Bolts, whose ended the eliminations at 5-9.

The loss was disastrous for Meralco, who will have to hope that Barako Bull beats Alaska on Sunday for a ticket to the playoffs. If the Aces win that game, they will likely go into a playoff with the Bolts for the final seat.

The game was still tied at 29-all in the second quarter, before the Boosters unleashed a 15-4 run to take a 44-33 lead at the half. Petron led comfortably the rest of the way, never being seriously threatened by the Bolts.

“It’s a big win for us. It’s a good way to bounce back after a loss,” said Petron coach Gee Abanilla, whose squad was coming off a 19-point defeat at the hands of the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers.

“Coming into the quarterfinals, we want to have some sort of momentum. We want to have some kind of good attitude,” added Abanilla, who admitted that a playoff with Rain or Shine is an unlikely scenario.

Former Meralco point guard Chris Ross added 18 points for Petron, while Arwind Santos added 17. Alex Cabagnot and Chris Lutz finished with 14 and 12 points, respectively, for the Boosters, which missed wingman Marcio Lassiter because of a death in the family.

Gary David scored 18 points for Meralco before fouling out. Jared Dillinger added 16 points while John Wilson and Cliff Hodge had 13 apiece for the Bolts.

PET 96 – Fajardo 19, Ross 18, Santos 17, Cabagnot 14, Lutz 12, Kramer 6, Duncil 4, Tubid 2, Taha 2, Lanete 2.
MER 87 – David 18, Ildefonso 17, Dillinger 16, Wilson 13, Hodge 13, Allado 5, Hugnatan 3, Artadi 2, Timberlake 0, Salvacion 0, Al-Hussaini 0.
QS: 15-15, 44-33, 70-56, 96-87

Chris Lutz of Petron and Jared Dillinger of Meralco engage
in a midair collision.

Paul Artadi tries to block Yousef Taha from getting the loose ball.

RAIN OR SHINE over AIR 21, 104-94
The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters rolled to their seventh straight victory with a 104-94 beatdown of the Air 21 Express on Saturday at SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

With the win, the Elasto Painters wrapped up their elimination round campaign in the PLDT Home DSL Philippine Cup at 11-3, assuring themselves of the second seed in the playoffs.

That means Rain or Shine will have twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals against the No. 7 seed, which would likely be the GlobalPort Batang Pier.

The Elasto Painters began the game on an 11-0 run and were rarely threatened the rest of the way, except for a stretch in the third period when Air 21 cut the lead to just four points. But Rain or Shine got its bearings back to come away with the easy win.

Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao took the opportunity to give his rookies Raymond Almazan, Alex Nuyles, and Jeric Teng some seasoning in their final game ahead of the playoffs. The youngsters delivered, with each of them scoring 13 points to lead the team.

“They did justice to the playing time that was given them,” said Guiao.

The win gave Rain or Shine a twice-to-beat bonus for the third time in the last five conferences.

“It’s a measure of the consistency of our team,” said Guiao. “We’re not the most talented team, we’re not the tallest team, we’re not the most expensive team. But we’ve been consistent.”

For Guiao, Rain or Shine’s success is a testament to how his players have embraced what he called his “unorthodox” system.

Air 21 finished at the cellar for the fourth time in the last six tournaments with a 3-11 record.

ROS 104 - Almazan 13, Nuyles 13, Teng 13, Arana 10, Rodriguez 10, Belga 7, Cruz 7, Chan 7, Lee 7, Norwood 7, Tiu 5, Tang 2, Ibanes 2, Quinahan 1
A21 94 - Yeo 19, Canaleta 19, Manuel 17, Taulava 16, Ritualo 13, Custodio 6, Cardona 4, Borboran 0, Jaime 0, Matias 0, Espiritu 0, Sharma 0, Camson 0
QS: 28-17, 54-41, 81-74, 104-94

Jeric Teng snipes against Air 21.

Joseph Yeo tries to outrun Gabe Norwood.

The Alaska Aces lived to fight another day after an 89-80 victory over Barako Bull on Sunday at SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

The win forced a four-way tie for sixth to ninth places in the PLDT Home DSL Philippine Cup at the end of the elimination round among Barako Bull, GlobalPort, Alaska, and Meralco.

Because of better tiebreak quotient, Barako Bull finished sixth, GlobalPort seventh, Alaska eighth, and Meralco ninth.

That left the Aces and the Bolts in a playoff for the eighth and final playoff spot on Monday at 8 p.m. at Mall of Asia Arena.

“We haven’t had back-to-back wins this conference. It’d be nice to go out and earn it,” said Alaska coach Luigi Trillo.

The winner of the Alaska-Meralco playoff will go into a quarterfinal duel with top seed Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.

JVee Casio led the Aces with 24 points, five rebounds, and seven assists, while Gabby Espinas added 21 points and nine rebounds for Alaska. The made up for the subpar performance of top scorer Sonny Thoss, who had just six points and six rebounds.

It was a tight affair until the fourth quarter, with Barako Bull still leading by one point, 65-64.

But the Aces unleashed a 13-2 run that opened up a 77-67 advantage, which they nursed the rest of the way.

Ronjay Buenafe led Barako Bull with 14 points while Carlo Lastimosa finished with 11. Barako Bull will figure in a best-of-three quarterfinals series with Petron beginning on Tuesday.

ALA 89 – Casio 24, Espinas 21, Jazul 11, Abueva 9, Baguio 8, Thoss 6, Eman 6, Dela Cruz 4, Hontiveros 0, Avenido 0, Ramos 0, Buenafe 0.
BAR 80 – Buenafe 14, Lastimosa 11, Pena 8, Macapagal 7, Miller 7, Jensen 6, Wilson 6, Isip 6, Pennisi 6, Intal 5, Maierhofer 2, Miranda 2, Marcelo 0, Labagala 0.
QS: 22-17, 41-38, 62-63, 89-80

Ronjay Buenafe goes up strong.

Gabby Espinas challenges Dave Marcelo.

TALK N TEXT over GINEBRA, 103-79
The Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters ended its campaign in the PLDT Home DSL Philippine Cup on a winning note, fashioning out a 103-79 victory over Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on Sunday at SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

The game had no bearing on the standings, as Ginebra was already assured of the top seed in the playoffs while Talk ‘N Text was locked into a best-of-three quarterfinal matchup with the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers.

It becmae quickly apparent that the Tropang Texters wanted to win more, taking a 32-21 advantage after the first quarter and cruising the rest of the way.

“We’ve lost our last three games in a row, so this was a game where we tried to build some confidence heading into the quarters,” said Talk ‘N Text coach Norman Black.

Danny Seigle led the Tropang Texters with 20 points and seven rebounds while Ranidel De Ocampo had 19 and nine. Jimmy Alapag added 17 points and eight assists for Talk ‘N Text, which finished the eliminations with an 8-6 record to take the fourth seed heading into the playoffs.

Talk ‘N Text begins their series on Tuesday against a piping hot San Mig Coffee team that has won its last four games.

“They’re big, they’re long, they’re athletic,” said Black about the Mixers. “It will be a tough matchup.”

Greg Slaughter led Ginebra with 15 points, while Mark Caguioa was the only other player in double-figures with 11. The Gin Kings’ leading scorer Japeth Aguilar finished with a season-low six points in just 22 minutes.

Ginebra finished the elims at 11-3, in a tie with Rain or Shine. The Gin Kings, however, took the top seed after having beaten the Elasto Painters in their lone elimination tussle.

They will still await the result of Monday’s playoff matchup between the Alaska Aces and the Meralco Bolts, with the winner having twice-to-win disadvantage against the Gin Kings.

TNT 103 - Seigle 20, Alapag 17, Peek 10, Castro 8, Ferriols 7, Reyes 6, Fonacier 6, Aban 4, Anthony 4, Reyes 2, Poligrates 0.
GIN 79 - Slaughter 15, Caguioa 11, Tenorio 9, Mamaril 8, Ellis 7, Aguilar 6, Helterbrand 6, Ababou 5, Monfort 5, Reyes 4, Baracael 3, Urbiztondo 0, Forrester 0, Faundo 0.
QS: 32-21, 62-39, 84-62, 103-79

Ali Peek with the emphatic rebound against Greg Slaughter.

Jay-R Reyes is hounded by Danny Seigle.

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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