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PBA: Petron downs Barako

by Tito Talao

Games Tomorrow (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
5:45 p.m. – Meralco vs Globalport
8 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs San Mig Coffee

Manila, Philippines – Though down to nine players, injury-ravaged Petron Blaze continues to leave opponents walking wounded.

Marcio Lassiter had 26 points, Arwind Santos 10 of his 19 in the third, and Paolo Hubalde 9 of his 15 in the fourth as the Boosters rallied from 13 points down early to turn back rugged Barako Bull, 96-90, last night and stay unbeaten in the PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Chris Lutz joined teammates Alex Cabagnot, Yousef Taha, Ronald Tubid and Chris Ross on the bench as highly-prized cheerers, leaving Petron with 8 regulars and 1 rookie against a burly team that would give up 30 fouls, none more jarring than the ones dispensed by a former teammate, Dorian Pena.

The 6-foot-6 Pena picked up his fifth foul defending the low post against 6-foot-10 June Mar Fajardo and then pushed off the Boosters sophomore in frustration, drawing a technical – his second – and a one-way ticket to the locker room with 7:01 left in the game.

That was just after Willie Miller ended five minutes of silence for the Energy Cola who wrapped up the third quarter looking good with a 73-71 lead.

A 7-0 run highlighted by a Lassiter 3-pointer made it 78-73 and Barako Bull, which fell to 2-2 after winning its first two assignments, never came closer than 3 the rest of the way.

Largely responsible for Petron’s valiant stand in the fourth was Hubalde, son of 1977 PBA Most Valuable Player Freddie Hubalde. The former University of the East playmaker, a journeyman through most of his pro carreer, hit the free throw off Pena’s T and accounted for 8 of the Boosters’ 10 during a 3-minute span after that.

“The players were told that the standard of expectation should not be changed,” said Petron coach Gee Abanilla. “Everybody pitched in and stepped up.”

Abanilla rued their flat start, with Barako Bull taking a 40-27 lead three minutes into the second quarter.

“We just kept hanging on and finally the breaks went our way in the end,” he said. “It was just total team effort.”

Their ever-growing injury list is about to be clipped with the return of 2 or 3 players, including Cabagnot, and this has given Abanilla something to look forward to.

Pena, Mick Pennisi and Mark Isip took turns on Fajardo and succeeded in holding him to 11 points. But keeping him away from the board was another matter.

Fajardo muscled his way to 22 rebounds, including 5 offensively that helped the Boosters gain a couple more tries and soften their 42 percent shooting from inside the arc.

In the other game, the Alaska Aces jumped the gun on Air21 in extra time to hack out a 97-91 victory for their second win of the conference.

The scores:
First game:
Petron 96 – Lassiter 26, Santos 19, Hubalde 15, Fajardo 11, Lanete 10, Deutchman 7, Duncil 4, Kramer 4, Marata 0.

Barako Bull 90 — Intal 11, Macapagal 10, Miller 10, Buenafe 10, Wilson 9, Isip 9, Pena 9, Jensen 7, Fortuna 5, Villanueva 5, Pennisi 5, Marcelo 0.

Quarters: 24-31; 46-50; 71-73; 96-90

Second game:
ALASKA 97 – Abueva 19, Exciminiano 16, Jazul 13, Espinas 11, Thoss 10, Casio 7, Baguio 7, Dela Cruz 6, Belasco 4, Ramos 4, Hontiveros 0, Eman 0.

AIR21 91 – Canaleta 22, Manuel 20, Custodio 13, Cardona 12, Espiritu 10, Taulava 5, Yeo 4, Sharma 4, Jaime 1, Arboleda 0, Ritualo 0, Camson 0.

Quarters: 9-16, 26-29, 52-49, 80-80, 97-91