2014 PBA Commissioner’s Cup: The Quarterfinal Push Part 1

TNT completed its nine-game elims sweep, the Bolts formalized their entry to the next round, and the Beermen increased their chances of getting the second seed in the past two days of PBA action!

From top to bottom: Kevin Jones leads SMB over SMC, Richard Howell rejoices as
TNT beats GlobalPort, and Darnell Jackson helps Meralco get past Barako Bull.

In Friday’s first game, Meralco beat Barako Bull, 105-98. Coach Ryan Gregorio heaved a sigh of relief here as his Bolts came back from 20 points down to upend the Energy Cola and formalize their entry to the quarterfinal round. Six players from Meralco finished in double-digit scoring, with import Darnell Jackson leading the way. The 28-year old former Kansas Jayhawk shot much better from the field here compared to his first game, making 12 of his 22 field goal attempts to score 30 points. He also dished out 5 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block to make up for his subpar rebounding (only 5 boards)

The Energy Cola had most of the indicators of a win here. They outrebounded Meralco, 41-37. They shot 52.4% from three-point land. Josh Dollard also had another strong game, scoring 33 markers and hauling down 15 rebounds. And, of course, that 20-point lead, too. So what happened? Well, they went cold at a crucial stretch in the fourth, and they coughed up the ball a total of 21 times.

Sharp Shooting: One of the main things that helped Meralco complete its comeback was the sharp shooting of both Jared Dillinger and John Wilson. Dillinger shot 4/5 from long range on his way to 16 points, while Wilson rifled in 3 treys as he scored 15. Dillinger and Wilson actually combined for all seven of the Bolts’ threes in this game. Needless to say, if Meralco wants to put up a stiff challenge in the quarterfinals, then its outside shots will need to fall. 

In the second match, Talk N Text scraped by GlobalPort, 92-91. The all-local crew of coach Norman Black got the job done, beating the Batang Pier and, more importantly, sweeping the eliminations to cop the top spot heading to the next round. Five guys finished in double-figures here, with Best Player of the Conference candidate Ranidel De Ocampo dropping 17 points to lead TNT. He was backstopped by frontcourt partners Danny Seigle and Kelly Williams, who scored 16 markers each. Williams also stepped up with 11 rebounds as he started at the slot in place of the injured Richard Howell.  

Prior to shooting the potentially game-tying free throws in the endgame, Evan Brock made 7 of his first 8 freebies. He wasn’t supposed to miss his free throws with less than 2 seconds to go. Make both, and he would send the game into OT. Make both, and the erstwhile winless Batang Pier might still upset the erstwhile unbeaten Texters. Alas, Brock made the first but missed the second, allowing TNT to escape and clinch a rare elims sweep. 

A glimpse of the past: Alex Cabagnot was at his sharpest here, shooting 4/8 from beyond the arc and 10/18 overall to score a season-high 29 points for GlobalPort. This was, by far, his best game as a Batang Pier. The former Sta. Lucia Realtor and Petron Blaze Booster also got 6 rebounds and handed out 7 assists, reminding everyone of a bygone era when he was perhaps one of the top two or three PGs in the league.

In last night’s lone Saturday game, San Miguel Beer overcame San Mig Super Coffee, 97-88. With their prospects of finishing in second spot on the line, the Beermen stepped up and disposed of the Mixers quite convincingly. Import Kevin Jones was ultra-efficient here, making 4 of his 6 three-point attempts on his way to 26 points. He also grabbed 16 boards and dished out 4 dimes. He got ample support from other guys, too. Marcio Lassiter, Chris Ross, and June Mar Fajardo all combined for 50 points. Now SMB is at 6-2. If they win over Air 21 in their final elims game, then they will lock up the second seed, which comes with a twice-to-beat edge in the quarterfinals.

James Mays shot just 6/16 from the field to finish with 15 points. The Mixers, as a team, shot only 55% from the line. They also had more turnovers and fewer assists than SMB. Still, the worst thing that happened to the Mixers here was seeing Marc Pingris injure his rib in the second period and never return. He was inadvertently hit by Doug Kramer and Fajardo in the rib area. Initial reports are not conclusive yet, so the jury’s out on whether Ping can help SMC close out the elims. This compounds the Mixers’ injury woes, as both James Mays and James Yap are nursing back spasms.

Mighty Marcio: Marcio Lassiter had a forgettable outing against the Aces in late March, scoring a paltry 3 points on 1/12 FG shooting, but he bounced back really well here. The former Gilas sniper connected on 8 of his 14 FG attempts, including 3 triples, to record 19 points. He also added 4 assists and 1 steal. For the most part, Lassiter has been the top SG this conference, and the Beermen will need him to consistently play at this level if they want a dep run in the next round. 

Game Recaps (by Rey Joble/InterAKTV):


The Meralco Bolts came back from a 22-point first half deficit before outlasting Barako Bull, 105-98, on Friday at Mall of Asia Arena.

“We started flat, but in the game of basketball, you don’t lose in the first, second, third quarters. You have to play until the end,” said Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio.

“We were down 22 but this game is too important for us to let it slip away.”

It was the second game in the PLDT Home TVolution Commissioner’s Cup to see the Bolts rally from a 20-point deficit. Meralco also came from 20 points down to win against the Air 21 Express last March 23.

“If that’s the identity of the team, the comeback kids, I don’t mind, as long as we win in the end,” said Gregorio, who drew double-figures in scoring from six players, including Chris Timberlake who scored a career-high 12 points.

“Timberlake played consistent basketball,” added Gregorio.

The victory assured the Bolts a spot in the quarterfinals, a development that should allow fans of the team to breathe a sigh of relief after Meralco failed to qualify for the playoffs in the Philippine Cup.

Barako Bull came out like a house on fire, scoring the first 14 points of the game before later stretching the advantage to as much as 22 points.

But the Bolts, sparked by four three-pointers from Jared Dillinger, slowly whittled away at the deficit. Meralco came within just one point, 74-73, at the end of the third period.

They finally took the lead after scoring the first five points of the fourth quarter, 78-74.

Barako Bull fought back and were still ahead, 88-87, midway through the final period. But Meralco finished off its opponent with a 9-0 run for a 96-88 lead that was too much for Barako Bull to recover from.

Meralco will wrap up its elimination round schedule against the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers, and Gregorio hopes the Bolts will show the same level of intensity despite the team already assured of a spot in the playoffs.

“We’re playing San Mig Coffee on Monday, we need it for positioning,” said Gregorio.

Barako Bull’s playoff hopes dimmed further as it dropped to 2-6. Its only chance of making the quarterfinals is if it wins its remaining assignment against GlobalPort on Sunday, and if any one among Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, Rain or Shine, and Air 21 drop their remaining games.

MER 105 – Jackson 30, Dillinger 16, David 15, Wilson 15, Timberlake 12, Hodge 10, Hugnatan 7, Caram 0, Salvacion 0, Sena 0, Guevarra 0.
BAR 98 – Dollard 33, Intal 12, Pennisi 12, Fortuna 11, Miller 9, Miranda 8, Wilson 7, Marcelo 3, Buenafe 3, Pena 0.
QS: 20-33, 42-54, 73-74, 105-98

Josh Dollard and the Energy Cola stumbled against Meralco.

Jared Dillinger caught fire from long distance.

Darnell Jackson played solidly for Meralco.


The Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters became the first team in 24 years to sweep the elimination round of a PBA tournament after their narrow 92-91 victory on Friday over GlobalPort at Mall of Asia Arena.

The win gave the Tropang Texters, playing without injured import Richard Howell, a perfect 9-0 record entering the playoffs of the PLDT Home TVolution Commissioner’s Cup.

GlobalPort remained winless after losing its eighth straight match in coach Pido Jarencio’s maiden campaign with the squad.

The Batang Pier were still in the lead, 77-76, when Ranidel De Ocampo scored all of Talk ‘N Text’s points in a 9-3 run that gave the Tropang Texters the upper hand for good.

GlobalPort continued fighting, with import Evan Brock cutting the deficit to a single point, 86-85, with less than a minute left.

Talk ‘N Text looked like it put the nail on the coffin after Jayson Castro nailed a three-pointer against the shotclock buzzer for an 89-85 advantage.

But Alex Cabagnot, finishing with 29 points in his best game in a GlobalPort uniform, came right back for two free throws to cut the deficit to two points.

Castro committed a costly turnover in the ensuing possession, but Cabagnot could not capitalize as he missed a jumper while trying to draw a foul on Kelly Williams.

Atoning for his error, Castro scored two free throws for a 91-87 Talk ‘N Text lead with just 6.1 seconds left. But Cabagnot would just not quit, hitting a three-pointer with 3.8 seconds remaining.

Ranidel De Ocampo split his free throws in the next Talk ‘N Text possession to give GlobalPort one final shot to tie the game. Jarencio drew up a nifty play for Brock, who was fouled with 1.9 seconds on the game clock.

The hardworking import made his first shot before clanging the second off the rim, allowing the Tropang Texters to escape.

TNT 92 – De Ocampo 17, Williams 16, Seigle 16, Fonacier 15, Canaleta 10, Castro 5, Alapag 4, Aban 3, Salamat 2, Baclao 2, Carey 2, Reyes Rob 0, Reyes Jai 0, Reyes Ryan 0.
GLO 91 – Cabagnot 29, Brock 26, Salva 10, Salvador 8, Nabong 6, Macapagal 6, Matias 2, Sharma 2, Custodio 2, Yee 0, Chua 0, Garcia 0.
QS: 22-19, 40-41, 63-67, 92-91

Richard Howell was all too happy that his teammates held the fort
and won even without him.

Evan Brock soars for the rebound in GlobalPort's eighth straight loss.

Jai Reyes gets open and shoots over former teammate Nico Salva.


The San Miguel Beermen took one step closer to securing the second seed in the playoffs of the PLDT Home TVolution Commissioner’s Cup after an impressive 97-88 victory over the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers on Saturday at Mall of Asia Arena.

The win improved the Beermen’s record to 6-2. San Miguel Beer only needs to win against the Air 21 Express on Wednesday to clinch the No. 2 spot, which comes with a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals.

The Beermen pounced on the absence of San Mig Coffee star forward Marc Pingris, who left the game in the second quarter with a back injury.

San Miguel Beer’s bubble grew to as many as 18 points, 63-45, after a 13-3 run to start the second half.

Peter June Simon and James Yap nailed back-to-back three-pointers to spark the Mixers’ fightback. But San Mig Coffee could not come closer than eight points the rest of the way as the Beermen seemed to have an answer for every Mixers rally.

Import Kevin Jones and sharpshooter Marcio Lassiter bounced back from subpar performances in the Beermen’s loss to Alaska by pacing their team with 26 and 19 points, respectively. Chris Ross, a key factor in San Miguel Beer’s breakaway, added 16 points for the Beermen.

San Mig Coffee’s record fell to 4-3.

SMB 97 – Jones 26, Lassiter 19, Ross 16, Fajardo 15, Kramer 8, Santos 7, Tubid 5, Mercado 1, Duncil 0, Hubalde 0, Lutz 0.
SMC 88 – Mays 15, Simon 15, Sangalang 13, Devance 12, Barroca 11, Yap 9, Pingris 6, De Ocampo 2, Mallari 2, Reavis 2, Melton 1.
QS: 25-23, 50-42, 78-69, 97-88

James Mays is nursing a bad back for SMC.

Kevin Jones showcased his all-around game against the Mixers.

Marcio Lassiter drives strong to the hole against Ian Sangalang.

Images by Pranz Kaeno Billones and Paul Ryan Tan of Sports 5.

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