Games Today (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
2:45 p.m. – Barako Bull vs Rain or Shine
5:15 p.m. – Talk ’N Text vs San Miguel Beer
Manila, Philippines – Call Air21’s Mark Cardona Captain Hook no more.
A master of the off-pace hook shot which earned him that moniker, Cardona surprised Alaska in the closing minute last night with two lesser known weapons in his arsenal – a three-pointer and a hang-time driving layup – as the Express stopped the Aces, 91-88, in the PBA PLDT Home Telpad Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Air21 got 22 points and 10 rebounds, along with some spectacular dunks, from Dominique Sutton, while 41-year-old Asi Taulava added 15 points and 15 rebounds in 41 minutes, and Cardona 14 points, 9 in the fourth quarter.
The win was the Express’ third in four games, tying them at second spot with San Miguel Beer behind unbeaten Barangay Ginebra San Miguel (3-0).
Alaska fell to 2-2, denying newly named coach Alex Compton, who replaced Luigi Trillo, a sweet follow-up of their 103-91 victory over Talk ‘N Text last Monday.
“This is a fulfilling win for us,” said Air21 coach Franz Pumaren. “We were able to survive despite being down. We didn’t show our frustration and just clawed back.”
Cardona, who had two triples, did much of the clawing in the final 1:23, stepping aside as Alaska import Henry Walker swooped past in draining a big 3 to give the Express an 87-86 edge for the game’s 18th lead change.
After Jayvee Casio threw a pass too high even for 6-foot-9 Sonny Thoss, Cardona sucked the air out of the Aces with a hangtime move that wiped out Thoss and Cyrus Baguio under the basket to make it a three-point lead with 52 seconds remaining.
“Mac stepped up and hit some ridiculous shots,” said Pumaren. “Those were big shots that gave us enough cushion. I thought my inaanak, Jayvee Casio, was going to beat us single-handed.”
The Aces, who launched 30 three-pointers, making 13, had their breathtaking moments from beyond the arc early in the fourth when Casio, who went 6 of 9, buried three consecutive treys to give them an 84-82 advantage. Baguio then came up with a sensational step-back pull-up jumper that blew away Cardona for a four-point Alaska lead.