Alaska continued to dominate even against, arguably, the most talented team in the PBA, while the Air21 Express remain mired at the bottom of the standings. The Gin Kings also had a breakthrough performance this past Wednesday, finally nailing win #1, while the Boosters won an ugly one for their fourth victory in five games.
A few days ago against the Air21 Express, Paul Lee produced easily his best game of the current conference. The Lee-thal Weapon registered 15 points on 6-of-8 FG shooting, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, and 1 steal in 29 minutes of play. He could have easily put up a triple-double had he played at least 40 minutes. Boom. Meanwhile, Air21s Nio Caaleta was a picture of irony. He was awesome from beyond the arc, making 5 of his 6 trey attempts, but he was butt-awful from the two-point area. Caaleta missed ALL SEVEN two-point field goals in the game. Yikes.
The Painters win over the Express means they are gathering steam. This was ROS's third straight win, and though it was a little too close for comfort, the Painters will take it. Their next four assignments are tough -- Ginebra, Global Port, TNT, and then Petron. This winning run should give them enough momentum heading into those encounters, but a red flag was Bruno Sundov's subpar production -- just 3-of-9 from the field and only 5 rebounds in 27 minutes.
In Wednesdays second game, Mark Caguioa and Vernon Macklin combining for 44 points, 18 boards, 6 assists, and 4 steals as Ginebra finally won a game this conference. If this pair of pugs can continue to produce those numbers, then Alfrancis Chua's Gin Kings should have little trouble climbing the standings. On the other end of the floor, Barako Bull was uncharacteristically lackadaisical. One guy who struggled mightily was Jonas Villanueva, who had great production in each of his early games in the conference. After shooting 50% from the field in his first two games, his clip has sunk to just 32% in his last three. Heat-check time for the former FEU standout.
One big question after this big Ginebra win is this: is LA Tenorio's game back to its great form? Apart from his 19-point aberration against Petron last February 17, LA Tenorio has been having a miserable Commish Cup. In this game, however, he scored 10 points, grabbed 5 rebounds, and dished out 6 dimes -- all above his current averages. Is this a sign of better things to come for Ginebra and for the Gilas playmaker?
Just yesterday, the Express were dealt another black eye after losing to the Petron Blaze Boosters. Renaldo Balkman made minced meat of the Air21 defense by putting up 25 points to go along with 13 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1 block. Phew. Whattaguy. It was an ugly game, though. Both teams combined for just 113 points. This was Petron's lowest winning score. EVER. Nevertheless, an ugly win (even one this ugly) is still a win.
One big concern for Air21 coach Franz Pumaren is who will save his Express? All of Air21's games this conference have been tight. Their lone win, which was against fellow cellar-dweller Ginebra, was decided by just four points. All their other games were lost by an average of only 4.3 points. The Express just cannot get over the proverbial hump. Who will save them from this vicious barrage of almost-but-not-quite?
In Fridays main game, Alaska used a big 14-1 blast to break the game open in the third canto and beat the Tropang Texters. Cyrus Baguio's great hanging-in-the-air shot against Keith Benson was the highlight of this pivotal run. The former UST Tiger led the Alaska locals with 17 markers, missing just 3 of his 11 attempts from the floor. Now, I honestly cannot remember the last time a Norman Black team was held to just two field goals and a grand total of five points in one quarter. I mean, isn't TNT composed chiefly of guys in the national pool? SMH.
Conclusion? These Aces are for real! 5-0 start to the conference? Beating the Philippine Cup champs by TWENTY-THREE points? Robert Dozier playing beyond expectations? Calvin Abueva not skipping a beat? Sonny Thoss playing super-efficient basketball? Shudder with fear.
RAIN OR SHINE ELASTO-PAINTERS over AIR21 EXPRESS, 99-97
The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters edged the Air 21 Express in a thrilling shootout, 99-97, Wednesday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
It was the third straight victory for Rain or Shine, which needed one last defensive stop to deal hardluck Air 21 its third straight defeat.
The Elasto Painters led by just a single point, 98-97, after Ryan Araa and Wynne Arboleda exchanged three-pointers with under a minute left in the game. Rain or Shine center JR Quiahan went to the free throw line in the next possession and split his charities, giving the Express one last shot to tie or win the match.
Arboleda missed a wide open corner three-pointer in the next play, but the Express were awarded get possession after the rebound was tapped out. Air 21 drew up a play for import Michael Dunigan in the paint, but was foiled by tight defending by the Elasto Painters.
Rain or Shine won despite missing import Bruno Sundov for most of the second half due to foul trouble. The 7-foot-3 Croatian picked up his fourth and fifth fouls in quick succession with still less than nine minutes left in the third quarter, and fouled out of the game late in the fourth period.
We kept on fighting back even when the import wasnt helping us throughout the game. This is a big lesson for him. He just has to play a little smarter, keeping away from those fouls, said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao.
Sundov played just 27 minutes, but managed to score 17 points. Paul Lee took over the cudgels for the Elasto Painters, posting 15 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists in his finest game of the conference, while Araa added 11 points.
Dunigan led all scorers with 22 points.
Rain or Shine improved its win-loss record to 3-1, while Air 21s mark fell to 1-3.
ROS 99- Sundov 17, Lee 15, Arana 11, Quinahan 9, Norwood 8, Rodriguez 8, Matias 7, Cruz 6, Uyloan 5, Belga 5, Tiu 4, Ibanes 4.
AIR 97- Dunigan 22, Canaleta 18, Isip 14, Cortez 14, Wilson 11, Arboleda 9, Atkins 4, Reyes 3, Omolon 1, Ritualo 1, Sena 0, Baclao 0, Custodio 0.
QS: 26-20; 43-41; 74-72; 99-97
BGY. GINEBRA GIN KINGS over BARAKO BULL ENERGY COLA, 93-72
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel finally won its first game in the Commissioners Cup, and the Gin Kings did it in style, blowing out Barako Bull, 93-72, Wednesday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
Reigning Most Valuable Player Mark Caguioa continued his stellar play with 23 points and four steals for Ginebra, which took a 13-point halftime lead before taking the fight out of Barako Bull in the third quarter.
Import Vernon Macklin, playing in his second game for the Gin Kings, added 21 points for the Gin Kings, who looked more visibly energized after losing their first four games in the conference.
Ginebra led by as much as 28 points in the fourth quarter, as its suffocating defense held the dangerous Barako Bull to just 46 points through three quarters.
It was the first victory of coach Alfrancis Chua at the helm of Ginebra.
Evan Brock and Josh Urbiztondo led the Energy Colas with 16 points apiece. Barako Bull suffered its second loss in five assignments, dropping to fourth place in the standings.
GIN 93- Caguioa 23, Macklin 21, Baracael 14, Tenorio 10, Ellis 9, Raymundo 4, Taha 3, Labagala 2, Espiritu 2, Mamaril 2, Helterbrand 2, Maierhofer 1, Hatfield 0.
BAR 72- Brock 16, Urbiztondo 16, Maliksi 10, Pennisi 8, Seigle 6, Kramer 4, Allado 4, Intal 3, Macapagal 3, Duncil 2, Weinstein 0, Anthony 0, Villanueva 0.
QS: 21-11, 39-26, 66-46, 93-72
PETRON BLAZE BOOSTERS over AIR21 EXPRESS, 60-53
Petron Blaze survived Air 21 in an ugly game, 60-53, Friday night at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum to continue its streak in the PBA Commissioners Cup.
It was the fourth straight win for the Boosters, who needed a spark from energy players Renaldo Balkman and Ronald Tubid to make up for their subpar showing in several portions in the second half.
Despite struggling offensively, the Boosters got a big lift from their defense.
They held the Express to only seven points in the second quarter. Over that stretch, Air 21 also committed to 11 turnovers, allowing the Boosters to take a 34-24 lead at the turn.
In the third period, it was the Boosters turn to struggle offensively, scoring only seven points to give the Express a chance to come back.
By the end of the third quarter, the score was tied at 41-apiece. But Balkman scored the first six points of the final period, and Tubid continued to hustle and frustrate the guards of the Express to allow the Boosters to keep their streak going.
The 60 points scored by Petron is the lowest winning score by any team since Sta. Lucia scored 54 points in a victory over Purefoods on May 22, 2005.
It was also the lowest winning output for Petron in franchise history.
PET 60- Balkman 25, Santos 11, Lassiter 7, Tubid 7, Miranda 6, Lanete 4, Fajardo 0, Yeo 0, Washington 0, Pena 0.
AIR 53- Dunigan 15, Custodio 8, Canaleta 8, Cortez 7, Isip 6, Wilson 5, Omolon 2, Arboleda 2, Atkins 0, Sena 0, Baclao 0, Menor 0.
QS: 18-17, 34-24, 41-41, 60-53
ALASKA ACES over TALK N TEXT TROPANG TEXTERS, 92-69
Coming into its matchup against Alaska, Talk N Text was the No. 1 defensive team in the Commissioners Cup.
On Friday, the Aces gave the Tropang Texters a dose of their own medicine on the way to a 92-69 beatdown at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
Alaska held Talk N Text to miserable 2-of-21 shooting (9.5 percent) in the third quarter to break the game wide open for the surprisingly easy victory.
Cyrus Baguio finished with 17 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field to provide the scoring spunk for the Aces locals, but it was the team defensive effort that did the magic for Alaska.
They held the Tropang Texters to just five points in the third period while unloading 28 points.
Baguios five straight points, capped by a three-point play off a hangtime move over Talk N Text import Keith Benson, touched off a 14-1 run that gave Alaska a 59-40 lead in the third period.
But for coach Luigi Trillo, stopping Talk N Texts guards Jimmy Alapag and Jayson Castro as well as containing Benson was the key.
We took Benson out of his flow. Alapag and Castro, those two give the team life, but we played a little bit of good defense, then theyre missing open shots as well. We did a good job playing on both ends of the floor, said Alaska coach Luigi Trillo, whose team raced to its best start in a tournament since 1998.
ALA 92- Dozier 23, Baguio 17, Abueva 10, Casio 10, Hontiveros 10, Ramos 9, Dela Cruz 5, Jazul 2, Eman 2, Espinas 2, Thoss 2, Reyes 0, Baracael 0.
TNT 69- Benson 27, Castro 11, Al-Hussaini 6, Reyes 6, Williams 5, Alapag 5, De Ocampo 4, Carey 4, Fonacier 1, Raymundo 0, Gamalinda 0, Dillinger 0, Aban 0.
QS: 22-13, 45-39, 73-44, 92-69
Source: Unless otherwise specified, game recaps were compressed and compiled from InterAKTV. (Writing credit to Rey Joble)