Petron tabs top spot; Air21 repulses TNTBy Musong R. Castillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
PETRON Blaze gutted out a 103-100 victory over stubborn Alaska to nail the No. 1 spot of the PBA Governors Cup last night at PhilSports Arena.
Marcio Lassiter provided a crucial basket under shotclock pressure while Elijah Millsap added two cushion free throws, but the Boosters had to hold their breath on a triple attempt by Dondon Hontiveros before securing their seventh straight win.
“We just wanted to get the No. 1 spot going into the playoffs,” said Lassiter, who had 19 points and five rebounds.
In the first game, Air21 added new ingredients to its lineup but KG Canaleta proved that he is the Express’ main man, firing 30 points in a 106-102 victory over Talk N Text that kept their playoff hopes alive.
Canaleta scored nine straight points in a crucial run before Bonbon Custodio and import Zach Graham finished the hatchet job as the Express (2-5) snapped a four-game slide.
That is also the same slate now being held by the Tropang Texters, who are now in the bottom of the standings with their third straight loss.
“We were inspired by the sudden shake-up in our lineup,” Air21 coach Franz Pumaren said.
Air21 welcomed veteran Asi Taulava to its fold last night. The former league MVP saw action for the first time in the the PBA in close to a year and played his first competitive game in nearly three months. He had seven points, nine rebounds, six assists and two blocks.
Canaleta poured 14 of his total points in the fourth period, with Graham shooting 27 and Custodio winding up with 12.
Alaska had a lot of chances to avert their fourth loss in seven games, especially after it gobbled up Petron’s 86-76 lead and tied the match at 91 late in the final period.
But the Boosters always seemed to find a way to come through.
Up by two, Millsap nearly fumbled a pass but Lassiter recovered the leather, driving to the hoop and sidestepping the Alaska defense for a 101-97 lead. Millsap added two free throws with 21 seconds remaining after Calvin Abueva’s three-point play pulled Alaska to within a point.
Millsap’s free throws iced the final count, but Hontiveros nearly melted that lead with a triple try that bounced a couple of times on the rim before rattling out.
AIR21 106—Canaleta 30, Graham 27, Custodio 12, Manuel 10, Menor 7, Taulava 7, Atkins 4, Sharma 4, Yeo 3, Salamat 2, Burtscher 0.
TALK ‘N TEXT 102—Mitchell 27, De Ocampo 19, Anthony 16, CAstro 12, Alapag 10, Fonacier 8, Carey 5, Peek 4, Al-Hussaini 1, Aban 0.
Quarters: 22-19, 49-52, 75-75, 106-102
PETRON 103—Millsap 35, Lassiter 19, Lanete 16, Santos 10, Fajardo 7, Lutz 7, Tubid 5, Kramer 2, Cabagnot 2.
ALASKA 100—McKines 33, Thoss 17, Abueva 16, Casio 13, Baguio 10, Dela Cruz 6, Hontiveros 4, Eman 1, Jazul 0, Espinas 0.
Quarters: 30-27, 51-45, 79-74, 103-100