Games Tomorrow (MOA Arena)
4:15 p.m. – Purefoods vs GlobalPort
7 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs San Miguel
Without having to deal with the injured Twin Towers of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, the Tropang Texters let the prolific Orlando Johnson off the defensive radar and zeroed in instead on the rest of the Kings last night, weathering a late surge in posting a 95-91 victory in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Steffphon Pettigrew had 33 points and 12 rebounds as the Commissioner’s Cup champions preserved an exhilarating debut in the season-ending conference while handing Barangay Ginebra its second straight loss.
TNT coach Jong Uichico, who won two championships with Ginebra years ago, had sympathetic words for his former team, pointing to the absence of 7-foot- center Greg Slaughter while tactfully ignoring his own depleted roster.
“We just caught them in a getting-to-know stage; they have a new coach,” said Uichico. “Tapos wala pa si Slaughter. Nabawasan kami ng masyadong po-probelemahin after Johnson.”
Slaughter, 6-foot-10 center Japeth Aguilar and high-flying forward Chris Ellis sat out their second straight game for Ginebra coach Frankie Lim due to various foot injuries, leaving the Kings bereft of their mighty frontline and dumping much of the offensive load on Johnson.
After an opening 50-point performance against the Alaska Aces, Johnson came close to matching the prodigious effort with 46 points and 13 rebounds. But he was a spent force in the last quarter where Ginebra shot 6 of 23 from the floor and the Kings backcourt of LA Tenorio, Mark Caguioa and only recently Sol Mercado combined for just 5 points.
Pointed out that TNT was also missing stars Jayson Castro and Ranidel de Ocampo and rookie Kevin Alas, Uichico deadpanned, saying he hopes to get the three back anytime soon.
A botched call in the closing seconds sparked some dispute after Josh Urbiztondo hit two free throws to put Ginebra within 94-91 with 21 seconds remaining.
The Kings then gripped TNT’s Jordanian import Sam Daghles in a double-team courtesy of Mercado and Urbiztondo and video replay indicated Daghles may have lifted his pivot foot.
No whistle was blown and Daghles was able to get the ball to Larry Fonacier, who was fouled and hit a free throw to make it a two-possession contest with 11 seconds to go.
Meanwhile, the 12-hour difference notwithstanding, Barako Bull import Liam McMorrow plans to call his mom in Toronto early this morning to tell her the good news – that the Energy are 2-0 in the conference.
And to greet her on Mother’s Day.
“She’s the best, a special lady; it’s from her that I got my height and I thank her for that,” said McMorrow, who has two elder brothers and a sister who’s the eldest. “She has been a mom and dad to all of us.”
McMorrow, a defensive player in high school hockey back home before opting for another sport after growing seven inches from 6-foot-5, had 23 points, 15 rebounds, 3 steals and 1 assist to lead hot-starting Barako Bull past slumping Blackwater, 105-90.
The Elite, meanwhile, have lost their first three games by an average margin of 21.5 points, with no signs things are going to get better unless they recruit an Asian import to unburden 7-foot Marcus Douthit, who had 21 points and 13 rebounds but was scoreless in the fourth quarter from exhaustion after playing 41 minutes.
Seven years younger than Douthit, McMorrow, 28, had kind words for the Gilas Pilipinas naturalized player.
“He’s smart and is a solid player. He tried to draw me to some unnecessary fouls by putting his arms under and bringing his hands up,” said McMorrow, who also made plain the obvious.
BARAKO BULL 105 – McMorrow 23, Lastimosa 18, Intal 17, Yeo 8, Maierhofer 7, Hubalde 6, Garcia 4, Pascual 4, Lanete 4, Wilson 4, Sorongon 4, Ababou 3, Chua 2, Forrester 1, Salva 0.
BLACKWATER 90 – Douthit 21, Erram 12, Heruela 12, Gamalinda 12, Cervantes 9, Salvacion 9, Ballesteros 4, Celiz 3, Bulawan 3, Acuna 3, Reyes 2, Laure 0.
Quarters: 32-11, 55-42, 87-65, 105-90
TALK N’ TEXT 95 – Pettigrew 33, Seigle 14, Rosser 13, Daghles 12, Washington 7, Fonacier 6, Carey 5, Miller 5, Williams 0.
GINEBRA 91 – Johnson 46, Mercado 13, Tenorio 10, Caguioa 6, Urbiztondo 5, Marcelo 4, Brondial 4, Baracael 3, Pena 0, Helterbrand 0.
Quarters: 27-22, 53-48, 72-71, 95-91