MANILA, Philippines — GlobalPort import Markeith Cummings made quite a first impression in leading the Batang Pier to a 101-94 win in opening night of the 38th PBA Governors’ Cup Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Cummings, who came out of NCAA Divison II school Kennesaw State University, shone with 37 points on a productive 14-of-20 shooting from the field to go along with 11 rebounds in 41 minutes.
“Our import, he is very hardworking, that’s a given. He is not that heralded, not so much noise about him but that’s what we like. He gets the job done. I know the other teams will see him now so we must adjust to it,” said GlobalPort coach Junel Baculi on his six-foot-six forward.
“We’re just getting on building in chemistry. We have seven new players. Almost half of the team is new. Sabi ko nga we can get [wins] while we’re in the process of building chemistry. We still have a lot of things to do in order to contend with the other teams,” Baculi said.
Veteran forward Jay Washington also started off on the right track with his new team with 15 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three steals.
GlobalPort controlled the game from the get-go but Air21 managed to stay within striking distance. Free throws by Ogie Menor pulled the Express to within 11, 87-98, with over three minutes left after trailing by as much as 16 at one point in the fourth quarter.
But the Batang Pier pulled the plug on the Express’ mini-run with Cummings delivering the exclamation point in style with a breakaway 360 dunk off a turnover by Niño Canaleta that stretched the lead back to 13, 100-87, with 1:08 left,
“He (Cummings) is young. We got players who are also young. We are on a building stage as far as my team owner Mikee Romero is concerned. Changing the culture of the team. To be physical but not dirty. Rugged and tough physical team. Hopefully in a short time we can get there,” added Baculi.
Jaypee Belencion did a good job starting in place of Gary David with 14 points on four triples.
Zachary Graham and Canaleta led the Express, who gave up 20 turnover points, with 31 and 19 points respectively. Graham, one of the several returning imports, also grabbed 10 rebounds.