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PBA: Petron nears semis

Petron’s June Mar Fajardo shoves Barako Bull’s Dorian Pena during their heated PBA match last night at the Mall of Asia Arena which the Boosters won, 101-88. (Tony Pionilla)

by Waylon Galvez

5:45 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs Globalport
8 p.m. – Ginebra vs Alaska

Manila, Philippines – Marcio Lassiter fought off jetlag in the first three quarters before exploding in the payoff period as Petron Blaze outlasted Barako Bull, 101-88, in Game 1 of their best-of-three quarterfinal series in the 2014 PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup last night at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay City.

Lassiter, who arrived yesterday morning from the US after attending the funeral of his grandmother, Ada Ada Eshabarr, knocked down 13 of his 17 points in the last 12 minutes which he capped with a booming trey to help Petron pull away from a tight – and sometimes – heated battle.

Down by six entering the final frame (67-73), Petron went to Lassiter and the cat-quick forward responded big time as he joined hands with reigning league MVP Arwind Santos, Alex Cabagnot and 6-foot-10 center June Mar Fajardo in a vicious 32-9 run to grab the lead for good, 99-82, with 2:11 left in the game.

Lassiter left for the US last Wednesday right after Petron’s game against San Mig Super Coffee, and he missed the Boosters’ game last game against the Meralco Bolts last Sunday.

Santos and Cabagnot also finished with 17 points apiece, while Fajardo chipped in 15 points and 11 rebounds.

Chris Lutz typified Petron’s well-balanced attack by adding 14 markers.

The second-seeded Petron can close out the series with another victory on Friday at the same venue.

“Give a lot of credit to Barako Bull, they showed up tonight, this team is well-coached. They were hitting a lot tough shots in the first half, and we’re kind of soft (on defense)” said Petron mentor Gee Abanilla, as his team fell behind by 12 points (47-35) late in the second quarter.

“The good thing is we calmed down on defense in the second half. We’re kind of tentative as well with our shots, but in the second I though we shot the ball well, and it was a great turn around for us,” added Abanilla.

Ronjay Buenafe scored 12 points in the first half highlighted by three triples, but Petron clamped down on defense in the second half that held the exciting guard to just five points the rest of the way. Former two-time MVP Willie Miller also had 17 markers, while JC Intal added 15 points and 11 boards.

Meantime, top seed Ginebra and second seed Rain or Shine shoot for semis berths today when they clash with their respective rivals.

Both armed with twice-to-beat privileges, the Gin Kings collide with the Alaska Aces while the Painters take on the Globalport Batang Pier.

The Painters and the Batang Pier split their head-to-head collision during the eliminations, with Globalport winning first, 90-88, last Dec. 8, but Rain or Shine avenged that with a 98-87 victory last Jan. 5, which was part of the team’s franchise-best seven straight wins ending the first round.

“We have to appreciate and realize the effort we had. All the 14 games that we played, winning 11 and losing three to gain twice-to-beat, all of that will boil down to the game tomorrow. We have to absorb that and soak it in, and put a total effort,” said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao.

“Although, I don’t know how healthy they are, and that is probably one area where we can have an advantage,” added Guiao, whose team will rely on a balanced roster that include former Rookie of the Year winners Paul Lee and Gabe Norwood, Beau Belga, JR Quinahan, Ryan Arana, Jervy Cruz, Chris Tiu and rookies Raymond Almazan, Jeric Teng and Alex Nuyles.

In the other match, San Mig Coffee defeated Talk ‘n Text, 90-83, to likewise jump to a 1-0 edge in their own best of three quarterfinal pairing.

The scores:
First game:
PETRON 101 – Lassiter 17, Cabagnot 17, Santos 17, Fajardo 15, Lutz 14, Ross 10, Tubid 6, Lanete 4, Taha 1, Duncil 0, Kramer 0.

BARAKO 88 – Miller 17, Buenafe 17, Intal 15, Pena 9, Miranda 9, Wilson 8, Jensen 5, Maierhofer 3, Pennisi 3, Macapagal 2, Lastimosa 0, Marcelo 0.

Quarters: 20-22, 42-49, 67-73, 101-88

Second game:
SAN MIG SUPER COFFEE 90 – Simon 20, Devance 12, Barroca 11, Yap 11, Pingris 10, De Ocampo 9, Mallari 6, Sangalang 6, Melton 5, Reavis 0.

TALK N’ TEXT 83 – Castro 24, Seigle 15, Alapag 12, De Ocampo 11, Canaleta 8, Fonacier 5, Williams 4, Carey 4, Aban 0, Peek 0, Reyes R. 0, Reyes J. 0.

Quarters: 15-13, 40-32, 69-60, 90-83

Second game: