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PBA: Barako crushes Air21

by Tito Talao

Games Tomorrow (Cuneta Astrodome)
5:45 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs Meralco
8 p.m. – San Mig Coffee vs Alaska

There’s no way of knowing how far Barako Bull would have gone with three first round picks in their lineup. But they sure got far enough last night without them.

Going for “tried-and-tested” veterans instead of promising rookies during the draft,

the Energy Cola earned some vindication for their decision by blowing away the Air21 Express, 88-75, in the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Mark Isip, one of the players Barako Bull acquired in exchange for a high draft pick, led the Energy Cola with 16 points while Ronjay Buenafe added 11 with three 3-point shots.

The game was practically over in the second quarter, with the Energy Cola, who drained 10 triples overall, opening a 48-28 advantage at halftime as Keith Jensen and Ronjay Buenafe went 4 of 4 combined in 3s and Air21 shot 31 percenet., including 1 of 10 from beyond the arc.

Barako posted its biggest lead at 63-30 early in the third on a 3-point play by JC Intal.

“The players wanted to prove something,” said Barako Bull coach Bong Ramos. “They’re the ones we really wanted to have an immediate impact. We hope to pull off some surprises with this team.”

After coming under fire for relinquishing their rights to the 4th to 6th picks in the draft for castoffs, the Energy Cola appeared hell-bent on proving their worth.

With former consultant Rajko Toroman watching at ringside across from the Air21 bench, the Energy Cola seized the opportunity to shine in a hybrid system that is more fluid and less structured than before.

“It’s still coach Rajko’s plays and defense that we used,” said Ramos. “May dinagdag lang ako ng konti na di namin ginagawa before.”

That would be their 3-point shooting and their defense, which forced Air21 to give up 23 points from 18 turnovers. Shockingly, the Express failed to cash in on 10 Barako errors, negating their narrow field goal edge.

Meanwhile, three teams which dropped their opening day games hope to recover lost ground when action resumes at the Cuneta Astrodome tomorrow.

Rain or Shine, which blasted Alaska, faces at 5:45 p.m. the Meralco Bolts, who lost to defending champion Talk ’N Text.

First Game
Barako Bull 88 – Isip 16, Buenafe 11, Macapagal 10, Miranda 10, Intal 9, Jensen 8, Villanueva 6, Wilson 4, Miller 4, Pennisi 4, Fortuna 2, Marcelo 2, Pena 2.

Air 21 75 – Yeo 22, Canaleta 18, Taulava 10, Ritualo 7, Sharma 6, Custodio 5, Menor 4, Camson 2, Espiritu 1, Burstcher 0, Arboleda 0, Manuel 0.

Quarters: 22-17, 48-28, 75-44, 88-75.

Second Game:
Petron 97 – Lassiter 18, Lutz 18, Santos 16, Fajardo 15, Kramer 11, Hubalde 7, Taha 6, Ross 3, Duncil 2, Deutchman 1.

Globalport 87 – Mercado 20, Washington 15, Romeo 13, Najorda 10, Menk 6, Hayes 6, Belencion 4, Salvador 4, Garcia 4, Salva 3, Ponferrada 2, Lingganay 0, Nabong 0.

Quarters: 28-18, 56-44, 75-63, 97-87