By TITO S. TALAO
Manila, Philippines – Barangay Ginebra San Miguel took as long a time to unravel Barako Bull’s zone defense as it took Kings coach Ato Agustin to take notice of backup guard Emman Monfort.
With desperation mounting, Monfort came off the bench for the baffled LA Tenorio late in the third quarter and sparked a comeback from 10 points down as the Kings survived a big scare last night, turning back the Energy Cola, 90-83, in the PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Monfort unlocked the riddle of his former team’s zone with back-to-back 3-point shots and an ultra-aggressive defense of his own as league-leading Ginebra picked up its 10th win in 12 games to solidify its bid for a twice-to-beat incentive in the quarterfinals playoffs.
The Kings were 13 of 35 from 3-point range – the main weapon against zone defenses – but Jayjay Helterbrand, Chris Ellis and, eventually, Tenorio found their mark after Monfort had shown them the way.
Greg Slaughter led Ginebra with 14 points, along with Mark Caguioa, who sat out most of the fourth quarter as Ellis and Helterbrand came through. The 6-foot-11 Slaughter also grabbed 15 rebounds with 4 assists, 2 steals and 3 blocked shots in battling foul trouble and Barako Bull’s 2-3 zone which held him to two free throws in the second half.
Agustin agreed Monfort’s entry was the key. He also expects to see more zone defenses against the Kings in the future.
“Kailangan namin mag-adjust talaga at maiayos yung aming zone offense,” he said.
Dennis Miranda led Barako with 16 points and JC Intal had 10 of his 15 in the third quarter when the E-Colas outscored the Kings, 30-17. But Ellis had 9 in the fourth and Japeth Aguilar and Monfort 6 each as Ginebra came back, 30-15.
In the other game, Kelly Nabong hit two free throws with 1.4 seconds left in overtime and Globalport hung on to shock Alaska, 91-88, in their make-or-break duel for a playoff spot in the knockout quarterfinals.
Rookie Terrence Romeo led Globalport with 18 points while Nabong, taking over from an injured Jay Washington, added his second straight double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Sol Mercado, 2 of 13 from the floor, sank two foul shots to make it 89-88, and finished with 11 points while former MVP Eric Menk, whose last double-double performance came in May 2010 with Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in an out-of-town Fiesta Cup game against Alaska in Cebu City, had 10 points and 11 boards. Jondan Salvador led the 5-8 Batang Pier with 16 rebounds.
“The thing we talked about in the pre-game is to be consistent,” said Globalport coach Ritchie Ticzon. “The problem with us is that we’re able to compete but we’re not consistent in the third quarter or in the endgame. At least the players we’re able to rise to the challenge and they’re able to deliver.”
Ticzon said he left it to Nabong, whose drive late in regulation set up the extra period, to decide what to do with the second free throw after he made the first.
“There were discussions,” said Ticzon. “But they (Aces) still had a timeout left, and they could still come up with a desperation 3-point. Mas malaking problema sa’min yon. At least, with a three-point lead, they can only tie the game.”
Alaska fell to 4-9 and 9th place, just above 10th running Air21 (3-10). The two bottom teams in the elimination round get booted out of the playoffs.
Washington sat out the game with a partial tear in the plantar fasciitis on his right foot, while Alaska sophomore Calvin Abueva missed the crucial match with a sprained ankle.
GLOBALPORT 91 – Romeo 18, Nabong 13, Mercado 11, Menk 10, Belencion 9, Salvador 8, Salva 7, Najorda 6, Garcia 5, Hayes 4, Revilla 0, Chua 0.
ALASKA 88 – Casio 21, Thoss 21, Baguio 20, Espinas 14, Dela Cruz 7, Buenafe 3, Eman 2, Laure 0, Jazul 0, Hontiveros 0, Ramos 0, Exciminiano.
Quarters: 15-19, 34-31, 68-55, 82-82 (reg.), 91-88 (OT)
GINEBRA 90 – Slaughter 14, Caguioa 14, Aguilar 13, Ellis 11, Tenorio 11, Baracael 9, Helterbrand 6, Monfort 6, Reyes 3, Urbiztondo 3, Ababou 0, Mamaril 0, Forrester 0.
BARAKO 83 – Miranda 16, Intal 15, Pennisi 15, Macapagal 14, Maierhofer 10, Jensen 9, Isip 2, Pena 2, Lastimosa 0, Wilson 0, Miller 0, Buenafe 0.
Quarters: 21-12, 43-38, 60-68, 90-83.