by Tito S. Talao
Manila, Philippines – San Miguel Beer import Kevin Jones gets a second shot at redemption – for him and for the decision to replace his predecessor Josh Boone.
Hopefully for the Beermen, Jones won’t be a bane now that Boon(e) is gone.
Sent reeling by Talk ‘N Text on his debut a few days ago, Jones faces 6-foot-7 Alex McLean, a Liberty University product, when San Miguel takes on recent tormentor Rain or Shine in a lone game tonight in the PLDT Home TVolution PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Gametime is at 8 p.m., with 4th-running SMB (2-1) looking to rebound from a 107-99 loss to the Tropang Texters last Friday and 7th-placed Rain or Shine (1-1) coming off a rousing 92-78 victory over defending champion Alaska Milk Saturday.
Jones, an NBA D-Leaguer from West Virginia University, took over from Boone even after the former University of Connecticut mainstay unloaded 32 points and 21 rebounds against Barangay Ginebra San Miguel to key a 112-96 rout and a 2-0 card.
Clearly groping for chemistry with their new import, the Beermen fell to their similarly unbeaten opponent, with Jones making his presence felt with 35 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal and 2 blocks with 2 turnovers in 40 minutes.
But he was powerless to stop TNT’s Richard Howell, formerly from North Carolina State, who feasted inside the paint with 38 points, 20 rebounds, 11 of them offensive, 4 assists, 5 steals and a block with 3 turnovers in 41 minutes.
“June Mar [Fajardo] came back today and Kevin played his first game. They haven’t had the chance to play together until today. We need to continuously work on our chemistry so we can get these guys involved,” SMB consultant Todd Purves told InterAksyon.com after the game.
Now Jones gets tested by an even more formidable opponent, a heavy-banging team that had been his ballclub’s nemesis last conference.
Then known as Petron Blaze, SMB, which reverted to its longtime name at the end of the Philippine Cup, was bundled out of the semifinals by Rain or Shine, which went on to battle San Mig Super Coffee in the Finals before going down in six games.
The Elasto Painters dropped their first game, 110-106, to Barako Bull on March 9. But they came back strong to whip the Aces, with Mclean, recommended by former RoS import Arizona Reid, scoring 19 points with 18 rebounds.
“Our import is struggling a little bit,” said RoS coach Yeng Guiao. “But he will learn the ropes and adjust to the situation in time. He’s a solid, fundamentally sound player although he’s not athletic. But we can survive if he scores in the 20s and rebounds as well.”
Meanwhile, the defending champion Aces (2-3) checked a dangerous slide Monday by beating the Air21 Express (2-2), 88-78, with Robert Dozier scoring 23 points and putting the brakes on counterpart Herve
ALASKA 88 – Dozier 23, Thoss 14, Abueva 13, Casio 10, Jazul 10, Hontiveros 6, Baguio 6, Dela Cruz 2, Espinas 2, Manuel 2, Reyes 0.
AIR 21 78 – Yeo 19, Lamizana 16, Taulava 11, Cardona 10, Borboran 9, Villanueva 5, Ramos 4, Burtscher 2, Atkins 2, Jaime 0, Poligrates 0.
Quarters: 19-16, 38-41, 61-62, 88-78