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PBA: Cabagnot lifts Petron over Air21

ALEX Cabagnot2by Waylon Galvez

Games Tomorrow (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
5:45 p.m. – Alaska vs Globalport
8 p.m. – Barako Bull vs Ginebra

Manila, Philippines – Petron Blaze guard Alex Cabagnot returned from injury in style last night, leading Petron Blaze to a thrilling 90-88 win over Air21 in the 2014 PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Back after missing the team’s first five games, Cabagnot made his comeback a memorable one when he scored on a running floater with 3.5 seconds left as Petron stayed unbeaten in the season-opening tournament.

Cabagnot, who tore his plantar fasciitis (right foot), found himself open at the middle when he got free from his defender Bon-Bon Custodio off June Mar Fajardo’s pick.

Without hesitation, the 31-year-old Cabagnot added another game-winning to his burgeoning list as he made the shot in front of KG Canaleta to shatter the seventh deadlock of the contest.

Air21 had the final shot but Custodio’s desperation three from half court hit the left side of the rim.

“I just wanted to leave no more opportunity for them (Express),” said Cabagnot. “I was a little bit nervous and a little bit excited, but it worked out.”

The loss dropped Air21 to 1-6 after winning its previous game against Barako Bull.

“It’s going to be good for Alex’s confidence,” said Petron mentor Gee Abanilla. “Games like this will boost his confidence, but not close games like this, not always. It’s also good for us as a team. We’re just happy to win the game.”

Cabagnot finished with 10 points and seven assists in 27 minutes of action, while Chris Lutz led the Boosters with 25 points.

Arwind Santos contributed 14 points with nine rebounds, Marcio Lassiter and Chris Ross added 12 and 10 points, respectively.

Like Cabagnot, Ross returned to action after missing three games because of a hamstring injury.

Fajardo collected 13 points and 16 rebounds to survive his first-ever game against 6-foot-9 veteran Asi Taulava, who had solid numbers of 16 points and 18 rebounds.

Lassiter split his free throws that gave Petron an 81-79 advantage, but Air21 regained the lead when Mark Cardona completed a three-point play, 82-81, with 1:24 to go. Lassiter answered with a triple followed by an uncontested layup off a miss by Taulava to put the Boosters up 86-82, 49.8 remaining.

Canaleta then hit a pair of triples to level the score at 88-all. The first trimmed the deficit to 86-85 while his second was a booming trey with 20.2 ticks to play after Fajardo nailed two charities.

In the other game, Meralco came back from an 18 point deficit to defeat the San Mig Coffee Mixers, 72-64.

The scores:
Petron 90 – Lutz 25, Santos 14, Fajardo 13, Lassiter 12, Ross 10, Cabagnot 10, Hubalde 4, Lanete 2, Duncil 0, Kramer 0.

Air21 88 – Cardona 24, Taulava 16, Canaleta 11, Camson 10, Manuel 10, Arboleda 6, Sharma 4, Custodio 4, Jaime 3, Matias 0, Burtscher 0, Espiritu 0, Yeo 0.

Quarters: 19-10, 39-39, 59-60, 90-88