Eman Monfort, at 5-foot-6 the smallest guy in the pros, did almost everything in leading a second-half charge that carried Barako Bull to a 90-89 victory over Meralco last night in the PBA Governors’ Cup at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Forced to sit out for most of the first half because of three fouls, Monfort, the rookie out of UAAP powerhouse Ateneo, hit 11 of his career-high 22 points in the third quarter as the Energy overhauled an eight-point halftime deficit.
He also collared seven boards—also a career-high that matched his total number of rebounds in his first four games in the Commissioner’s Cup—while holding the offense together for the Energy, who tied their victims at 1-1.
“I just did what I thought I could to help the team,” Monfort said in Filipino after providing solid back-up to import Michael Singletary.
The fourth shortest player to ever see action in Asia’s first play-for-pay league—Billy Abarrientos, Al Vergara and Boyet Bautista were all 5-foot-5—Monfort made his first four triple tries and finished with an 80-percent shooting clip from the field.
Dorian Peña also earned special mention from coach Rajko Toroman after playing through pain in his left hand because of a broken knuckle. But Peña nearly turned goat after missing two free throws with 8.7 seconds left.
Mario West scored 33 points for the Bolts, but missed two running shots in the waning seconds.
Peña, who played with a heavily wrapped shooting hand, was sent to the line after the first of those two West misses. When Peña missed both charities, Meralco called a last timeout to draw up another play for West.
But West missed a running jumper for the second straight time to doom the Bolts.
“It was a very hard game for us,” said Toroman, who is listed as the team’s consultant but maps out plays in timeouts with listed coach Bong Ramos out of the picture.
“First half, we didn’t play good because our point guards were not good,” the Serbian added. “We were weak inside, that’s why I was forced to play Dorian. His (Peña’s) toughness got us back in the game.”
Singletary, who ran out of gas in a 113-118 overtime loss to depleted Talk ‘N Text on Friday, paced himself this time to wind up with 28 points, 14 rebounds and three steals. He had 41 in that losing game.
Danny Seigle added 12 points, nine rebounds and four assists for Barako Bull with Mick Pennisi grabbing 13 boards. Peña, who didn’t make any attempt at the basket, finished with seven rebounds.
BARAKO 90—Singletary 28, Monfort 22, Seigle 12, Buenafe 7, Jensen 6, Pennisi 5, Intal 4, Marcelo 2, Macapagal 2, Cruz 2, Weinstein 0, Yap 0, Pena 0.
MERALCO 89—West 33, Hugnatan 16, Salvacion 12, Wilson 9, Hodge 4, Guevarra 4, Ross 4, Allado 4, Vanlandingham 3, Mangahas 0.
Quarters: 22-21, 41-49, 66-67, 90-89