May 28, 2017
ANTIPOLO – Barangay Ginebra paid tribute to a great ol’ Ginebra team and made the night even more worthwhile with a grind-out win over Meralco that put the Kings in a good position to gain top seeding in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs. Wearing a retro Ginebra uniform, the Kings played the team’s old never-say-die spirit and fashioned out a 90-89 cliffhanger over the Meralco Bolts to gain a share of the lead with two play dates to go in the single-round-robin elims phase. Before a raucous sellout crowd at the Ynares Sports Center here, the Kings pulled an escape act and thus caught up with the Star Hotshots at 8-2. Having beaten all their major rivals atop the heap, Ginebra can take elims top honors with a win against Mahindra at the close of the elims on Friday. “This set us up to get the No. 1 seed. Top seeding doesn’t guarantee a championship but it gets you to a good road in the playoffs,” said Ginebra coach Tim Cone. Ginebra and Meralco figured in a tough grind-out battle with Kings pulling through on a big lapse by the Bolts in the dying seconds. The Bolts got a chance to win the game after Justin Brownlee missed two charities with Ginebra ahead by just one at 90-89 with six seconds to go. Alex Stepheson grabbed the defensive rebound but then Chris Newsome ran a fastbreak play that went awry, hurling a pass that went way, way ahead of the streaking Cliff Hodge. Thus, Meralco settled for a 7-4 closing mark outside the Top Two. Missing a twice-to-beat bonus in the quarters, the Bolts instead figure in a best-of-three quarters playoff. Justin Brownlee and LA Tenorio scored 22 points each as the Gin Kings completed a hat trick in a week. Before scalping Meralco, Ginebra hurdled San Miguel Beer and Blackwater. Ginebra established an early double-digit deficit on a 12-2 start but Meralco took just a little while to get into the fight, moving ahead, 24-22, at the end of the opening quarter. And with a better ball rotation and better clip, the Bolts enjoyed a six-point lead, 48-42, at the half. Stepheson, held to nine points and nine rebounds in their last game, had eight markers and eight boards in the opening half of this game. Brownlee got the upper hand over Stepheson in the third, and the Kings surged ahead, 74-69, going into the final canto. It was a battle that boiled down to the last play.
May 28, 2017
FOR A very long while, Joshua Smith and Ranidel de Ocampo were hogging the limelight for TNT KaTropa. When it came to the crunch, however, it was Roger Pogoy who came up with the game\'s biggest shot, enabling the KaTropa to survive a gutsy stand by Rain or Shine and come out a 105-102 winner Sunday in the PBA Commissioner\'s Cup at the Ynares Center in Antipolo. Pogoy only had 10 points but his last basket, a near-triple, gave TNT a 103-101 lead and, after James Yap split his charities, De Ocampo canned two freebies of his own for the final count that stood when the E-Painters failed to launch a decent try in their final possession. It was a sad ending for Rain or Shine. After digging themselves an early hole and notwithstanding the ejection of import Duke Crews with still 6:51 left in the third quarter the defending champions still kept themselves in the game, but could not come up with the points that would have tide them over. \"Expected naman iyon, with the teams battling for their placings in the quarterfinals,\" said TNT coach Nash Racela after his side got drawn into a scratch-and-claw affair that had six deadlocks, the last at 101-all, only 64 seconds remaining. In the end, TNT emerged with its eighth win in 11 games, good for fourth-running spot. But the KaTropa could still nab a top two slot, depending on the outcomes of the remaining games by the teams above them: Star, Ginebra and San Miguel Beer. Racela is simply glad his team is assured of landing at least in the middle of the eight teams advancing to the next round and a best-of-three series in the quarterfinals, not a bottom two windup which would have meant a twice-to-win handicap against a top two squad. \"I think at this point the important thing is not to be at a twice-to-beat disadvantage,\" said Racela. \"Lucky for us we were able to secure a best-of-three rather than a twice-to-win.\" That handicap may fall on Rain or Shine, which wound up with a 5-6 slate after its latest loss, its fourth in its last five games. The Elasto Painters remained at sixth but could wind up in either No. 7 or No. 8, depending on how the teams below them, Alaska and GlobalPort, which both beat them and are toting 4-6 records, fare in their last game. Yap scored 23 points, but flubbed three free throws inside the last 51 seconds that could have changed the game\'s complexion. Either one of the first two would have given Rain or Shine the lead. Chan heated up late to add 18 points and Beau Belga 13 points and seven rebounds while being tasked mostly with matching up against the 6-foot-9 1/2, 304-lb Smith. Crews could have helped if not for letting his emotions getting the better of him after he felt all the holding and bumping against him went uncalled by the game officials. As a result, Crews incurred a technical and had to be tossed with his team down 51-60 since he was already slapped an F1 in the opening period, contributing 17 rebounds but only nine points. Rain or Shine was far from done, however, and grittily plodded on behind Belga, Jericho Cruz, Raymond Almazan and Yap. Smith notched 23 points and 12 rebounds while Ranidel de Ocampo added 21 points as the KaTropa refused to lose composure despite a blown 16-point lead and was able to weather a late uprising by the E-Painters. Chan\'s last trey of the game even gave the E-Painters a brief taste of the lead at 98-97 and Yap\'s three-point play knotted the count at 101. Earlier, Jewel Ponferrada, Don Trollano and Belga were the ones who led a sustained charge that brought them as close as 62-63. But TNT continued to hang tough with Smith imposing his height and heft inside and RR Garcia burying two triples and Kris Rosales one as the KaTropa went into the payoff canto with a 78-71 lead. Despite getting little production from Smith in the early goings TNT still managed to take control right in the opening quarter and kept its foot on the pedal for a 51-38 halftime lead. The difference actually stood at 16 points thrice with De Ocampo leading the charge with 11 first half points and Troy Rosario adding 10 and six boards. Smith also bucked a 0-for-4 free throw shooting to chip in eight markers with his layup off a nifty Garcia feed making it 49-33. Yap and Chan tried to carry the fight for Rain or Shine with eight points apiece as the likes of Cruz, Belga and Almazan could not get into any rhythm early. Crews already hauled down 14 rebounds in the first 24 minutes of play but only seven points on 3-for-10 shooting and even got called for an F1 against Anthony Semerad in the last 26 seconds of the opening period.
May 27, 2017
Governors Cup title protagonists Barangay Ginebra and Meralco clash in a super Sunday match, with both sides pressing their bid for a Top Two finish in the PBA Governors Cup elimination round. The two teams are virtually tied with the Gin Kings at 7-2 and the Bolts at 7-3 going into their 6:45 p.m. setto at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo. Ginebra, however, enjoys the momentum of back-to-back triumphs over San Miguel Beer and Blackwater while Meralco is reeling with two losses in a row against GlobalPort and Star. Nonetheless, both are expected to wage an all-out battle in what could well be a fierce duel. The Gin Kings will be nostalgic, coming out in retro jersey to honor the 1991 Ginebra team, the first PBA ball club to come back from a 1-3 deficit to win a best-of-seven championship series. Playing coach Robert Jaworski and his team did that against Formula Shell in the first conference of the 1991 PBA season. Ginebra coach Tim Cone, however, stressed they won’t lose their focus on the task at hand. “We escaped Blackwater (Friday night) and we know we’ll have to play a more complete game against Meralco if we hope to get by them,” said Cone. “Coming from a couple of losses, we expect Meralco to bounce back hard against us. Add that to a tough turnaround from Binan to Antipolo, it makes this game double hard for us,” Cone added. The Ginebra mentor said Joe Devance is still doubtful to play although the 6-foot-8 forward showed up in practice Saturday. Meralco coach Norman Black, meanwhile, is longing to see the Bolts squad that dominated the early goings of the mid-season tourney. The Bolts were pathetic in their 86-94 loss to the Batang Pier and in their 90-108 rout of the Hotshots. Ranged against Star’s Ricardo Ratliffe, Alex Stepheson bled for just personal tournament-lows of nine points and the same number of rebounds. Black said Stepheson was slowed down by diarrhea. Worse, Stepheson fouled out with over six minutes left to play. The Meralco bench chieftain hopes to regain their form sooner than later. “The fact that we played poorly and the fact that my import is non-existent, that really concerns me moving forward, because whether we have twice-to-beat, whether it’s a best-of-three, we still have to play somebody in the quarterfinals,” said Black after their last game. “So we wanna go into the quarters playing good basketball, and in the last couple of games we played quite poorly, so we just have to find a way to turn it around,” he added.
May 27, 2017
STUMPED its last time out Rain or Shine tries to pick up the pieces and fan its chances for a modest goal when it takes on TNT KaTropa Sunday in the PBA Commissioner\'s Cup at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City. The KaTropa are looking to close out the 11-game eliminations with a second straight win that would be their eighth in all and give them a shot at a top two finish and a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals. At worst, TNT could fall to the middle of the pack, which is still all right since it means a best-of-three assignment in the ensuing round composed of the top eight teams. More important for KaTropa coach Nash Racela is the continued improvement of his team heading into the tougher battles ahead. \"(We) just want to get better every game, taking advantage of every practice and game to better equip us for the playoffs,\"stated Racela. Rain or Shine, on the other hand, craves for a victory to avoid falling into either No. 7 or No. 8, which carries with it the handicap of having to win twice over a top two team in the quarters. \"It\'s a must win for us if we want to have a chance for the top 6,\" said Elasto Painters coach Caloy Garcia. \"TNT is one of the best teams right now and we just have to match their intensity.\" The defending champions would not have been in such a bind if not for a 101-107 loss to resurgent GlobalPort only last Friday in a game where the E-Painters wilted in the face of a fiery Terrence Romeo-led windup. Garcia simply wants his team to do a quick turnaround, regroup and play their best against a TNT crew coming off a come-from-behind win over Alaska last Saturday. \"Coming off a tough loss we just have to bounce back from it,\" said Garcia. Of additional interest would be how Rain or Shine import Duke Crews ranges against TNT counterpart Joshua Smith. The two bangers have so far been impressive, with Crews averaging 25.5 points and 19.5 rebounds in two games and Smith debuting with 23 points and 10 rebounds versus Alaska despite foul trouble. Should their respective reinforcements cancel each other out, the local support should prove indispensable with TNT banking mostly on Jayson Castro, Ranidel de Ocampo and Roger Pogoy and Rain or Shine looking mainly at Jericho Cruz, James Yap and Raymond Almazan.
May 27, 2017
ANTIPOLO – Even with the minutes of Charles Rhodes clipped by early fouls, San Miguel Beer played with much firepower and clobbered Alaska Milk, 109-97, to firm up its bid for a Top Two finish in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Ynares Sports Center here Saturday night. Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter, Chris Ross and Arwind Santos carried much of the fight against the Alaska side crippled minus injury-hit key players Calvin Abueva and Jvee Casio in this Petron Blaze Saturday Special. The Aces managed to keep the game close through the early goings of the third quarter before Cabagnot rifled in back-to-back treys to ignite a 15-to-nothing roll and open a 71-59 lead for the Beermen. San Miguel sustained a steady ride to the finish and regained a piece of second place with idle Barangay Ginebra with their identical 7-2 win-loss marks. “We want to take control of our destiny. We’re getting close to the playoffs and we need this win,” said Cabagnot who came through imports’ numbers with 25 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and three steals. The Kings and the Beermen will finish first and second should both sweep their last two games in the single-round-robin elims phase. Ginebra has Meralco and Mahindra as last assignments while San Miguel closes out its elims stint versus Blackwater and GlobalPort. Stopped by the Kings the last time out, the Beermen got back on track with a smooth win over the Aces. With manageable challenge from the Aces, SMB coach Leo Austria enjoyed the luxury of playing June Mar Fajardo minimal minutes. Fajardo saw action for only 15:57 minutes off the bench and came up with five points and six rebounds. Cabagnot, Lassiter and Ross stood out with sterling stats line as San Miguel sent Alaska to a shakier spot in handing the Aces a sixth consecutive loss. Alaska dropped to joint seventh place with GlobalPort at 4-6. The Aces have their last crack at an outright playoff entry against the Star Hotshots on Wednesday at the Cuneta Astrodome. Cabagnot spiked his 25-point game with five three-pointers, Lassiter sparkled with 19 markers, five boards and four dish-offs while Ross shone with 18 points, 10 assists, three rebounds and three steals.