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PBA: Barako hands Alaska first loss

DENOK Miranda

Games Tomorrow (Ynares Sports Center, Antipolo City)
4:15 p.m. – NLEX vs Blackwater
7 p.m. – Ginebra vs Meralco

Barako Bull succeeded what six other teams failed to do in the PBA Philippine Cup.

Denok Miranda scored 21 points while providing veteran leadership as the Energy Cola dealt the Alaska Aces their first loss with an 85-78 victory last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

It was Miranda who set the tone for one of the biggest wins of the season-opening conference.

The former Far Eastern University star fired 11 points in the second quarter, turning a slim 20-18 lead after the opening period into a commanding 49-31 halftime advantage.

He also gave Barako its biggest lead at 21, when his three-pointer with 8:45 left in the third made it 54-33.

Alaska tried to make a big comeback, with two Eric Menk free throws cutting the Barako lead down to 75-71, 4:54 left in the contest. But Miranda, RR Garcia and Willy Wilson made timely baskets to prevent the Energy Cola from suffering a meltdown.

Barako Coach Koy Banal was quick to praise Miranda, who entered the game averaging 14.3 points this conference.

“Kung may Calvin Abueva ang Alaska, may Denok Miranda kami,” said Banal, referring to Alaska’s Energizer Bunny. “Yung energy ni Denok, not only inside the floor but also outside, malaking bagay sa team.”

Barako Bull notched its second straight win after going 0-5 to start the conference. The Energy Cola were coming off an 87-71 rout of the Kia Sorento last Sunday.

In the second game, San Miguel Beer downed expansion team Kia, 90-74, to gain a share of the lead with Alaska at 6-1.

Reigning MVP June Mar Fajardo exploded for a career-high 36 points on 13-of-15 shooting and 9-of-13 free throws to break his previous high of 28 points against Rain or Shine in the 2013 Governors’ Cup. He also grabbed 17 rebounds.