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PBA: Barako pips Meralco

Mario West of Meralco dunks over the defense oif Mick Penisi during an alley-op play during PBA action at Smart Araneta Coliseum. (Photo by Tony Pionilla)

by Waylon Galvez

Games Wednesday (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
5:15 p.m. – Globalport vs San Mig Coffee
7:30 p.m. – Talk ’N Text vs Alaska

Rookie point guard Emman Monfort provided the spark in the final minutes as the undermanned Barako Bull grinded out a hard-earned 90-89 victory over Meralco in the PBA Governors’ Cup last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Monfort, a former Ateneo playmaker, delivered the biggest basket of the game when he knocked down a jumper that gave the Energy Cola a 90-87 lead with 1:39 left in the game.

The 16th overall pick in last year’s PBA Rookie Draft finished with a career-high 22 points on 8-of-10 shooting, highlighted by four triples as Barako barged into the win column after a 118-113 overtime loss to Talk N’ Text last Friday.

Listed at 5-foot-16 and 1/16, Monfort is the fourth smallest player ever to grace the pros, after 5-foot-5 Billy Abarrientos and his nephew and former MVP Johnny Abarrientos (5-foot-5), Al Vergara (5-foot-5 and 5/8) and Boyet Bautista (5-foot-5 and 3/4).

“Ginawa ko lang kung ano ‘yung pinagagawa ni coach (Rajko Toroman). Mas maganda lang din ‘yung naging execution ng team sa offense and also sa defense,” said Monfort, who averaged 5.8 points and 1.8 rebounds in four games during the last Commissioner’s Cup.

Import Mike Singletary had a double-double, finishing with 28 points and 14 boards, including a pair that came off two missed runners by Meralco counterpart Mario West.

In the second game, Petron Blaze survived a late charge by Barangay Ginebra San Miguel with a 101-95 victory for Gee Abanilla’s first win as a PBA coach.

Import Elijah Millsap had 24 points to lead a balanced attack for the Boosters, who improved to 1-1. Marcio Lassiter scored 23 points off the bench, Alex Cabagnot had 18 points and new recruit Doug Kramer finished with 17 and 10 rebounds.

The Kings got 29 points from import Dior Lowhorn, while Mark Caguioa and Chris Ellis had 15 and 12 points, respectively. Japeth Aguilar, obtained from Globalport a month ago, had eight points and five boards for new coach Ato Agustin.