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PBA: Star routs Ginebra, former coach

STAR’s Justin Melton, center, drives against Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s Sol Mercado, left, Japeth Aguilar and Mark Caguioa, right, in last night’s Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. (Ernie Sarmiento)

STAR’s Justin Melton, center, drives against Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s Sol Mercado, left, Japeth Aguilar and Mark Caguioa, right, in last night’s Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. (Ernie Sarmiento)

Games Wednesday (Smart Araneta)
4:15 p.m. – NLEX vs Barako Bull
7 p.m. – Meralco vs San Miguel

Manila, Philippines – Tim Cone, the newly-installed Barangay Ginebra San Miguel coach, must be wondering what he got himself into.

Before a sellout crowd of 16,576 yesterday, Cone stared at a 31-point deficit at one instance against his former team and was left to applaud a number of tough plays made by James Yap and Alex Mallari – shots he had marveled at from the Hotshots bench before he moved to the Kings during the off-season.

Cone eventually settled for a more acceptable 86-78 loss in the Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup to the ballclub he nurtured for four seasons with five championships, including the Grand Slam in 2013-14, and the young man he recruited as one of his assistants last year – Jason Webb.

“I thanked him,” said Webb when asked if words were exchanged between them during the post-game handshake.

And what did Cone have to say? “I think it would be better if it came from him,” Webb deferred.

A son of former Olympian Freddie Webb, the Hotshots mentor became the first second-generation PBA player to get a head coaching job.

Asked how his first pro win felt, Webb, who bit into his lip late in the game apparently from pressure after Barangay Ginebra came within 10 points behind Japeth Aguilar and rookie Scottie Thompson, mentioned “relief.”

He also bared seeking a little divine intervention. “I just prayed, ‘Lord, please don’t let me be the guy who lost a 31-point lead,’” Webb said.

Yap poured 8 of his 19 points in the first quarter where the Hotshots, after coming over to shake hands with Cone before the game, broke away with a 23-1 surge to open a 37-13 advantage on a buzzer-beater trey by Ronald Pascual off the glass. The spread ballooned to 44-13 before Greg Slaughter drained a short jumper three minutes into the second period.

Did he think Cone’s former players were sending him a message, Webb was asked?

“I don’t think so. The players love Coach Tim, and he loves them back,” Webb said. “They just didn’t want to lose.”

Slaughter was the lone offensive force that kept the Kings in the game long enough for Aguilar and Thompson to spark a belated comeback in the fourth quarter.

Slaughter led the Kings with 28 points, 13 coming in the third quarter, while Aguilar finished with 26, his 12 final-period explosion stirring the huge crowd back to life.

Last night’s attendance ranked high among the 14 Manila Clasico games between the two teams which averaged 17,582 spectators through two seasons.

Meanwhile, Rain or Shine rolled to its second straight win and solo leadership as rookie Maverick Ahanmisi scored 14 points in a 108-94 victory over Manny Pacquiao and the Mahindra Enforcers, a game Elasto Painters coach Yeng Guiao labeled as “historic.”

Known for his colorful adlibs and sharp remarks, Guiao, a congressman from Pampanga, paid compliment to his colleague in the House of Representatives as Pacquiao, a Sarangani lawmaker, scored his first points in the PBA.

An eight-division world boxing champion, Pacquiao, the Mahindra playing-coach, hit a left corner jumper over the defense of ROS’ Chris Tiu, two minutes into the second period.

It was his first field goal as a pro basketball player after going 0 for 6 as a rookie last season. Pacquiao went 1 of 3 from the field with an assist in almost six minutes in the first half.

“It’s historic that Congressman Manny scored on us… we’ll be posterized forever,” Guiao said, smiling. “Nagalit nga ako kasi matagal ko ng pangarap yun. But really, if you leave him open, he can make the shot.” (With report from Waylon Galvez)

RAIN OR SHINE 108 – Ahanmisi 14, Quinahan 14, Chan 12, Cruz 12, Belga 11, Almazan 9, Tiu 8, Trollano 8, Ponferada 7, Teng 6, Ibanes 4, Norwood 3, Matias 0, Nimes 0.

MAHINDRA 94 – Dehesa 20, Ramos 14, Revilla 14, Canaleta 11, Guinto 11, Yee 11, Jaime 6, Laure 2, Pacquiao 2, Pinto 2, Pascual 1, Alvarez 0, Bagatsing 0, Hubalde 0.

Quarters: 23-25, 48-44, 79-64, 108-94.

Second Game:
STAR 86 – Yap 19, Barroca 12, Simon 12, Torres 8, Melton 7, Mallari 6, Pascual 6, Pingris 6, Sangalang 5, Maliksi 3, Reavis 2, Pascual 0, Taha 0.

GINEBRA 78 – Slaughter 28, Aguilar 26, Ellis 5, Salva 5, Thompson 5, Caguioa 4, Brondial 2, Mariano 2, Devance 1, Helterbrand 0, Mercado 0, Tenorio 0.

Quarters: 37-13, 58-38, 71-52, 86-78.