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PBA: Ginebra turns back Air21, Taulava

Greg Slaughter against Asi Taulava.   Photo by Tony Pionilla

Round 1 to Slaughter
by Waylon Galvez

Games Tomorrow (Mall of Asia Arena)
5:45 p.m. – Barako Bull vs Talk ’N Text
8 p.m. – Globalport vs San Mig

Manila, Philippines – Barangay Ginebra San Miguel survived a late comeback by Air21 to post its third straight victory, 78-69, and keep a firm grip of solo second place in the PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup last night at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Forward Japeth Aguilar nearly had a triple-double as he scored 22 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, and blocked a career-best eight shots, erasing his previous personal high of seven which he did twice in his career.

The 6-foot-10 Aguilar’s eight rejections tied him for the sixth all-time most in the pro league, joining PBA greats Philip Cesar and Benjie Paras, and Talk ’N Text’s Ali Peek. Former Purefoods star Jerry Codiñera holds the PBA record with 11 shot blocks.

The win improved Ginebra’s record at 6-1, one game behind unbeaten leader Petron Blaze in the team standings. Two other Ginebra players finished in double digits as rookie Greg Slaughter collected 19 and 10 boards and Chris Ellis 10 and 11 rebounds.

After a close first quarter with the Express taking a 16-15 advantage, Aguilar scattered eight points in the second period while Ellis and Mark Caguioa combined for 10 as Ginebra outscored Air21, 26-10, to take a 41-26 halftime lead.

Aguilar’s slam-dunk put Ginebra up by 18 points, 52-34, 6:40 to play in the third period.

However, Air21 rallied behind Joseph Yeo, who fired a game-high 28 points. His lay-up with 5:30 left in the fourth quarter trimmed Ginebra’s lead to 70-65. A jumper by Mark Cardona kept it a 5-point Kings edge, 74-69, with 2:37 to go.

But Slaughter scored on a putback off a miss by Ellis that gave Ginebra a 76-69 lead. After trading turnovers and missed shots, Aguilar sealed the win with a pair of free throws to make it 78-69 with 44.2 seconds left in the game.

“We had a bad start, but we just took over in the second quarter. When they came back, hindi kami lumabas sa defensive game plan. We stuck to it,” said Ginebra coach Ato Agustin.

In the other match, the Alaska Aces downed the Meralco Bolts, 91-82.

GINEBRA 78 – Aguilar 22, Slaughter 19, Ellis 10, Caguioa 8, Baracael 7, Tenorio 4, Reyes 2, Helterbrand 2, Mamaril 2, Forrester 2, Monfort 0, Urbiztondo 0.

AIR21 69 – Yeo 28, Canaleta 14, Taulava 8, Camson 8, Cardona 4, Jaime 2, Burtscher 2, Custodio 2, Arboleda 1, Matias 0, Espiritu 0, Sharma 0, Ritualo 0.

Quarters: 15-16, 41-26, 57-46, 78-69.

Second game:
ALASKA 91 – Hontiveros 24, Baguio 23, Thoss 20, Abueva 9, Espinas 7, Casio 4, Dela Cruz 2, Jazul 2, Exciminiano 0, Eman 0.

MERALCO 82 – Cortez 22, David 15, Hugnatan 15, Wilson 10, Al-Hussaini 8, Dillinger 8, Sena 4, Timberlake 0, Salvacion 0, Guevarra 0.

Quarters: 22-19, 50-45, 68-66, 91-82