BARAKO Bull dominated Air21 behind the firepower of Danny Seigle, Ronjay Buenafe and import Michael Singletary, then turned to newcomer Eman Monfort to finish the job.
The 5-foot-6 Monfort hit a clutch three in the closing minutes to stop a scorching Air21 rally from 20 points down and eventually lift Barako Bull to a second win in three games with a 103-94 decision in the PBA Governors’ Cup last night at Mall of Asia Arena.
The timely triple from the diminutive rookie from Ateneo, who shot a career-high 22 points in a rousing win over the Meralco Bolts exactly a week ago, gave the Energy Cola a six-point lead and enough room to weather a desperate Air21 onslaught down the stretch.
“We started out strong but lost our rhythm in the second half,” said Rajko Toroman, the former Iran and Philippine team coach who is listed in the league as team consultant but is actually calling the shots for Barako. “Air21 is a very dangerous team, lots of offensive skills.
“With the victory, we’re now in a good position to fight in the quarterfinals,” he added.
A timeout by Toroman with 25 seconds left and the outcome beyond doubt annoyed Air21 mentor Franz Pumaren no end, however.
While they shook hands at midcourt as a sign of sportsmanship, Pumaren could not hide his displeasure at what he felt was an unnecessary gesture by Toroman in the end.
“It’s not right. Try doing that to another coach like Yeng (Guiao) and let’s see what happens,” said Pumaren, referring to his fiery colleague from Rain or Shine. “He (Toroman) has Filipino assistant coaches and they all know that we don’t do that here.”
Explained Toroman during the postgame interview: “There was a misunderstanding at the end of the game. I don’t want to insult anybody after calling that timeout.
Singletary had another monstrous effort with 41 points and 12 rebounds on top of two steals, two assists and a pair of blocks.
BARAKO 103—Singletary 41, Buenafe 18, Seigle 18, Monfort 12, Cruz 8, Intal 4, Jensen 2, Marcelo 0, Bulawan 0, Weinstein 0, Macapagal 0, Pennisi 0, Pena 0.
AIR 21 94—Graham 34, Canaleta 12, Sharma 12, Cortez 10, Isip 9, Custodio 6, Menor 5, Manuel 4, Omolon 2, Sena 0, Ritualo 0, Arboleda 0.
Quarters: 29-23, 65-47, 83-71, 103-94