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PBA: Garcia shines for Batang Pier

Rookie sensation Terrence Romeo of Globalport puts up a shot against Meralco defenders during their PBA Philippine Cup match last night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum. Globalport won, 93-89. (Tony Pionilla)

by Tito S. Talao

Games Today (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
3:30 p.m. – Barako Bull vs Air21
5:45 p.m. – Alaska vs Petron

Games Tomorrow (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
3 p.m. – Globalport vs Rain or Shine
5:15 p.m. – Ginebra vs Talk ’N Text

Manila, Philippines – The other rookie – not the one with the disheveled hair – helped Globalport take care of business this time.

Overshadowed by his Far Eastern Tamaraw teammate through most of the first four games of their maiden season, RR Garcia hit consecutive three-point shots in the last four minutes last night to provide the cushion needed as the Batang Pier turned back the Meralco Bolts, 93-89, in the PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Globalport snapped a two-game slide to improve at 2-3, the same record now carried by Meralco and idle Alaska Milk.
Garcia finished with 12 points on 3 of 6 shooting from 3-point range behind Sol Mercado’s 33 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists, and Jay Washington’s 27 points and 10 rebounds.

Terrence Romeo, Garcia’s celebrated FEU teammate, struggled with 4 points, missing all 3 of his 3s and all 3 of his free throws.

“Everybody knows RR has it,” said Globalport coach Richie Ticzon. “That’s the reason he’s in the end game.”
Garcia’s triple made it 80-75 with 4:23 remaining, and his second, with 1:10 left, again put distance between them and the Bolts, 87-82.

A 3-pointer by John Wilson with 11.8 seconds to go cut the deficit, 90-87, but again it was Garcia coming to the rescue with split charities.

“We executed a good defensive game plan,” said Ticzon. “We made stops and everybody responded well from those losses against Talk ‘N Text and Ginebra.”

Mercado had 9 points in the fourth quarter, hitting 11 of 16 free throws overall, while Washington had 7 points, going 11 of 14 from the line.

Both veterans had good words to say about the gradual growth of their young team.

“It’s a big win,” said Mercado. “We’re a work in progress; trying to get to know each other. There were lots of one-on-one before. Now there’s more selfless plays and conscious effort to play defense.”

Washington saw something else as well

“It’s just discipline, man, and trusting each other,” he said. “We got so many young guys, we needed some concentration and confidence.”

Five Meralco players were in double figures as the Bolts battled back from an early deficit to go through 6 deadlocks and 11 lead changes, the last with 8:12 to go on free throws by Mercado.

Meanwhile, Petron Blaze presents the first of a series of PBA Saturday Specials today at the Big Dome.

At 5:45 p.m., the unbeaten Petron Blaze Boosters gun for their fifth straight win against the Alaska Aces (2-3), while Barako Bull (2-2) takes on Air21 (0-5) in a rematch at 3:30 p.m..

The Energy Cola beat the Express, 88-75, in the first round last Nov. 20.

The Bolts held the Batang Pier to 26 percent (5 of 19) in the second quarter where Meralco broke away from a tight first 12 minutes with a 24-16 period on the way to a 24-16 halftime lead.

Sunday Salvacion hit 3 for 3 three-pointers and Mike Cortez and Gary David added 1 trey each as Meralco connected on 5 of 7 triples.

In the other matchup, Rain or Shine turned to Paul Lee as the Elasto Painters defeated the San Mig Coffee, 86-83.

Lee finished with 26 points and 2 rebounds.

The scores:
First game:
Globalport 93 – Mercado 33, Washington 27, Garcia 12, Lingganay 6, Hayes 4, Romeo 4, Salvador 4, Yee 3, Menk 0, Nabong 0, Chua 0, Belencion 0, Salva 0.

Meralco 89 – David 18, Cortez 18, Salvacion 15, Dillinger 13, Wilson 11, Al-Hussaini 7, Allado 7, Caram 0, Sena 0, Guevarra 0.

Quarters: 21-22, 37-46, 66-64, 93-89

Second game:
Rain or Shine 86 – Lee 26, Chan 11, Arana 7, Tang 6, Teng 6, Norwood 6, Cruz 5, Rodriguez 5, Quinahan 4, Belga 2, Almazan 2, Tiu 2, Nuyles 2, Ibanes 2.

San Mig Super Coffee 83 – Barroca 23, Simon 18, Pingris 12, Devance 11, Sangalang 8, Reavis 7, Mallari 4, Acuna 0, Gaco 0, Cawaling 0.

Quarters: 25-15, 38-34, 62-59, 86-83