Games Tomorrow (Binan, Laguna)
4:15 p.m. – Barako Bull vs Mahindra
7 p.m. – Barangay Ginebra vs Meralco
The defending champion San Miguel Beermen showed last night that Grand Slam coaches, triangle offenses and opposing 7-foot centers hold no terror for them.
Not when June Mar Fajardo is around.
The Beermen used a decisive third quarter to take the fight out of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 100-82, and grab with surprising ease solo leadership in the Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup at the Philsports Arena.
SMB broke away from a tight first half on the strength of five 3-pointers in the third period – two each by Ronald Tubid and Marcio Lassiter – to pick up its fourth win in five games while handing the slapdash Kings their third loss in four outings.
“We didn’t expect a big winning margin because we know Ginebra prepared long and hard for us,” said SMB coach Leo Austria. “It just so happened that June Mar had one of his best games and his teammates were able to provide the necessary help. Alam naman nila na ang priority namin e si June Mar.”
Ginebra may have prioritized Fajardo defensively as well – maybe too much.
With the Kings’ focus on the 6-10 center in shambles as Fajardo scored 22 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in his first encounter with 7-foot Greg Slaughter this season, the Beermen were able to involve more personnel in their offense.
Four SMB players struck in double figures, with Arwind Santos unloading a game-high 24 points, including his patented Spider-Man dunk, Tubid adding 15, Lassiter 13 and Chris Ross 10 points with two triples.
So woeful were the Kings, who trailed by 23 points late in the game while going 0 of 12 from 3-point range (to SMB’s 14 of 40 treys) and giving up 18 turnovers, that a coach Tim Cone, a two-time Grand Slam winner and purveyor of the vaunted triangle offense, stood apart in disgust from the team huddle during Ginebra’s closing timeouts.
Slaughter had 21 points and rebounds while Japeth Aguilar also had 21 with nine rebounds to leave the game with their Twin Tower reputation intact. But Mark Caguioa was 4 of 10 from the field, LA Tenorio 2 of 8 and Ginebra only 14 of 25 from the free throw line.
In the first game, though Meralco and Gary David did their part in lighting up the venue with 11 three-point shots last night, the Bolts nonetheless left the place still wrapped in darkness.
Josh Urbiztondo poured 13 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter to power Barako Bull past winless Meralco, 108-106, in a fierce shooting duel that spoiled David’s 40-point performance.
The Energy picked up their second win four games, while handing the Bolts their fourth straight loss, a heartbreaking defeat that left Meralco coach Norman Black livid at the final buzzer.
Black wanted a foul called on Willy Wilson, who stood his ground against Bolts forward Reynel Hugnatan in traffic on the final play, denying Meralco a chance to send the game into overtime after David had buried back-to-back 3s to help the Bolts cut a nine-point deficit to a basket, 108-106, with 29 seconds remaining.
Barako Bull left the door open after missing four straight free throws by Wilson and Eman Monfort, and David’s seventh 3-pointer set up a potential miracle comeback for the Bolts.
The Energy called time, hoping to burn as many seconds as possible before making their move. But point guard RR Garcia misjudged the shot clock and drove ahead of the designated time, missing a driving layup which Meralco rookie Chris Newsome corralled, 14.seconds left.
Hugnatan got the ball inside against Wilson, who clamped down on defense, forcing the Bolts forward to release a weak shot at the buzzer that sent the Energy bench in a frenzy.
“We stayed in focus even after those four missed free throws and Gary David’s three-point shooting,” said Barako coach Koy Banal. “It was a character game for us.”
Urbiztondo’s putback with a little over two minutes remaining gave Barako Bull a 106-97 lead. But David, who went 14 of 21 with seven treys, brought Meralco back from the grave with two triples and three free throws off a rainbow arc foul called on the Energy’s Mac Baracael.
BARAKO 108 – Urbiztondo 24, Garcia 18, Wilson 17, Monfort 12, Intal 9, Cruz 8, Pennisi 6, Baracael 5, Lanete 3, Caperal 2, Miranda 2, Sorongon 2, Fortuna 0.
MERALCO 106 – David 40, Newsome 12, Hugnatan 10, Amer 9, Alapag 7, Nabong 7, Caram 6, Dillinger 5, Al-Hussaini 4, Faundo 4, Sedurifa 2, Ferriols 0, Hodge 0.
Quarters: 32-23, 56-52, 79-82, 108-106
SAN MIGUEL 100 – Santos 24, Fajardo 22, Tubid 15, Lassiter 13, Ross 10, Cabagnot 8, Arana 6, Espinas 2, De Ocampo 0, Heruela 0, Lutz 0, Reyes 0.
GINEBRA 82 – Aguilar 21, Slaughter 21, Ellis 11, Caguioa 8, Mercado 7, Tenorio 4, Brondial 2, Devance 2, Helterbrand 2, Salva 2, Thompson 2, Marcelo 0, Mariano 0, Villamor 0.
Quarters: 23-23, 47-43, 73-60, 100-82