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PBA: Bull’s-eye for Barako

Blackwater's Paul Artadi looses the ball against Dave Mercado and Chico Lanete.   Photo by Tony Pionilla

Antipolo City — Barako Bull boosted its bid to earn a quarterfinal berth by eliminating expansion team Blackwater in the playoff race with a 97-82 victory in the PBA Philippine Cup last night at the Ynares Center here.

The Energy Cola relied on two sophomore players to inch closer to their goal of advancing to the playoff stage.

Guard RR Garcia and small forward Carlo Lastimosa each collected 16 points – most of them in the first half – as Barako Bull won for the third time in four games for a 3-6 mark.

With Garcia and Lastimosa making their shots, the Energy Cola raced to a 22-9 first quarter lead before settling for a 41-30 lead at halftime.

But the Energy Cola were far from finished.They battered the Elite with another spurt midway in the third to take a 70-44 lead. The Elite never recovered from that jolt and absorbed their 9th straight defeat to bid goodbye to their playoff aspiration.

Barako Bull coach Koy Banal was pleased with the way his team played defense, particularly in the first half when the Energy Cola held the Elite to 20-of-62 (32%) shooting from the field.

“I though t we did a good job defensively, we started strong,” said Banal, who is hoping to lead the team to the playoffs in his very first conference as coach after replacing Siot Tanquingcen.

“We limited them to 30 first half, that was the story of the game. “The energy the guys brought in made a big difference. I hope we can use this as springboard going to the last two games,” added Banal.

At the moment, Barako Bull is at 10th spot in the standings, half a game behind newcomer North Luzon Expressway (3-5) and one game behind Gloabalport (4-5) in the team standings.

Barako Bull has two games to play, against NLEX on Tuesday and Grand Slam champion Purefoods Star in Dipolog City on Dec. 6.

In the second game, Purefoods woke up in the nick of time to fend off an upset-conscious Kia Sorenta five, 88-77.