2014 PBA Governors’ Cup: Air 21 gets by Alaska as SMC rallies past GlobalPort!

Top: Mac Cardona came up big in the second half for Air 21.
Bottom: PJ Simon continues to wax hot for SMC.

First Game: 
The man they call “Captain Hook” delivered in the clutch as the Air 21 Express beat the Alaska Aces, 91-88. With his team down, 84-86, and only under two minutes left, Cardona presided over a 5-0 run that gave the Express the lead for good. Cardona nailed a three and then a lay-up for an 89-86 advantage that Air 21 never relinquished anymore. Cardona scored 14 points, all in the second half, on top of 2 rebounds and 2 assists, including a late dish to Aldrech Ramos, which basically put the outcome beyond doubt.

Alaska had the big edge in rebounding, 47-37, but the Aces couldn’t contain Air 21’s transition game. The Express rattled Alaska with 11 fastbreak points, many of which happened because the Aces turned the ball over 17 times. In contrast, Air 21 coughed the ball up in just 10 instances. Five players had 2 or more turnovers for Alaska, which sank to 2-2 in the standings. 

Double-Double Machines: Dom Sutton and Asi Taulava, so far, are averaging a combined 39 points and 27 rebounds. Both of those guys are norming double-doubles, and in this game they didn’t disappoint. Sutton had 22 points, 10 rebounds, 4 steals, and 3 assists to lead the Express, while Taulava dropped 15 markers, hauled down a game-high 15 boards, and dished out 6 dimes for another sterling effort. If you’re still looking for a reason to explain why the Express are 3-1 in the standings, then look no further. These double-double machines are the biggest reasons.

Second Game:
This was a tale of two games. GlobalPort was clearly the better side in the first half, leading by 17 at the half, but San Mig Super Coffee found its bearings in the last two quarters, outscoring the Batang Pier by 27 after the break. Marqus Blakely, PJ Simon, and Ian Sangalang led the second half fightback of SMC in this one. Blakely finished with 25 points, 13 rebounds, 6 steals, and 5 assists for the Mixers, while Simon added 24 markers, on 10/20 FG shooting. Sangalang had just 7 points, but he was big in the fourth quarter when the Mixers put the game away with a decisive 13-1 rally.

Import Dior Lowhorn was clearly frustrated by the end of the game as his club squandered a 20-point lead and let the Mixers pull the rug from under them. Lowhorn’s 33 points and 16 rebounds went down the drain as the Batang Pier fell to 1-3 in the standings. GlobalPort just turned the ball over too many times here. They committed 27 TOs compared to just 14 for SMC. Six Batang Pier players ended up with 3 or more turnovers each.

Streaking: The Mixers’ Grand Slam-seeking campaign is on a good start as they’ve won three of their first four outings. This is in contrast to their slow starts in the previous two conferences, both of which they still ruled. The key here will be how rested and healthy the Mixers will be in the knockout rounds. Blakely and Simon have been doing the heavy lifting so far, which might pave the way for the likes of James Yap, Marc Pingris, and Mark Barroca to pick the cudgels up in the conference’s deep waters. 

Game recaps by Rey Joble/InterAKTV:

AIR 21 over ALASKA, 91-88

Mac Cardona made the biggest plays down the stretch for the Air 21 Express as they turned back the Alaska Aces, 91-88, on Friday at SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

“Mac-Mac stepped up, he made some ridiculous shots, great shots,” said Air 21 coach Franz Pumaren.

The Express got back into their winning ways after dropping their first assignment in the PLDT Home Telpad Governors’ Cup last Wednesday against Ginebra. Air 21 improved to 3-1 in a tie with San Miguel Beer for second place, while Alaska lost its first game under coach Alex Compton to fall to 2-2.

“Nice win for us. We won three games already, but this one is so fulfilling, in spite of us playing terrible, we were able to survive it,” said Pumaren.

The Aces had the momentum late after an 11-2 run gave them an 86-82 lead.

Aldrech Ramos’s free throws pushed the Express closer, 86-84, before Cardona took over completely.

The brash former La Salle guard nailed a three-pointer to put his team ahead, 87-86, with 1:23 remaining. He followed that up a few moments later with a tough layup against two defenders for an 89-86 lead with 53 seconds left.

After another failed Alaska possession, Cardona found himself double-teamed by the Aces in the next play. ‘Captain Hook’ simply flipped an easy pass to Ramos, who scored a wide-open jumper to ice the game, 91-86, with 13.4 seconds remaining.

Cardona finished with 14 points, all in the second half.

Import Dominique Sutton led Air 21 with 22 points, 10 rebounds, and four steals, while Asi Taulava posted a dominant line of 15 points, 15 rebounds, and six assists.

“I’m still in awe with Asi in spite of the long season he’s keeping in step with the younger ones. Those stats are really amazing,” said Pumaren.

JVee Casio led Alaska with 18 points, six rebounds, and four assists. Import Henry Walker scored just 13 points, but chipped in 12 rebounds and eight assists.

AIR 91 – Sutton 22, Taulava 15, Cardona 14, Borboran 11, Yeo 10, Ramos 6, Atkins 6, Villanueva 3, Poligrates 2, Camson 2, Villanueva E. 0, Jaime 0, Burtscher 0.
ALA 88 – Casio 18, Walker 13, Espinas 12, Baguio 12, Jazul 8, Abueva 7, Thoss 6, Belasco 5, Hontiveros 5, Manuel 2, Dela Cruz 0.
QS: 19-29, 35-38, 67-64, 91-88

Mac Cardona tries to ward off the tight defense of Alaska's DonDon Hontiveros.


The San Mig Super Coffee Mixers woke up in the second half to carve out a masterful 92-82 result over the GlobalPort Batang Pier in PLDT Home Telpad Governors’ Cup action on Friday at SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

The Batang Pier dominated the first two quarters, leading by as many as 20 points behind debuting import Dior Lowhorn, who bullied his way to 17 in the first half.

“Tough beginning for us, they were very prepared,” said San Mig Coffee coach Time Cone.

GlobalPort still led by 19, 53-34, after Jay Washington opened the third quarter with a basket.

“We were very sluggish, but we got some things going coming out of halftime that kinda got our activity going on the defensive end,” said Cone.

But the Mixers finally got their act together, outscoring the Batang Pier by more than double, 33-16, in the third period to come within a single point, 68-67, heading into the final quarter. Peter June Simon led the San Mig Coffee attack in that span, scoring 11 points.

The onslaught continued in the final period, with Ian Sangalang finally giving the Mixers the lead, 73-72, with still 7:20 left in the game.

That touched off a 13-1 run that gave San Mig Coffee an 84-74 advantage to take the fight out of GlobalPort with 2:15 left.

Reigning Best Import Marqus Blakely stuffed the stat sheet once more with 25 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, and six steals. Simon finished with 24 points for the Mixers, who improved their win-loss record to 3-1.

GlobalPort lost its second straight game and third in the last four despite drawing 33 points and 16 rebounds from Lowhorn.

SMC 92 – Blakely 25, Simon 24, Yap 13, Pingris 10, Devance 8, Sangalang 7, Barroca 3, Melton 2, Maliksi 0, Gaco 0, Holstein 0, Reavis 0.
GLO 82 – Lowhorn 33, Washington 16, Cabagnot 12, Menk 10, Matias 7, Romeo 4, Ponferada 0, Salva 0, Salvador 0, Garcia 0, Macapagal 0, Custodio 0.
QS: 18-29, 34-51, 67-68, 92-82

Imports Marqus Blakely and Dior Lowhorn battle in the paint.
PJ Simon goes left as Terrence Romeo tries to catch up.

All images by Nuki Sabio/PBA.

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