Boosters refuse to relax; Bolts upBy Musong R. Castillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
PLAYING intensely even though the game had no bearing, Petron Blaze roared past Globalport, 101-90, last night to end its PBA Governors’ Cup eliminations stint with an eighth straight win at Cuneta Astrodome.
With the top seeding already in the bag as early as Friday, the Boosters refused to take it easy with import Elijah Millsap booking the tournament’s first triple double despite the flu.
Millsap, a hot favorite for the Best Import award, had 18 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists—an effort which made his 10 errors somewhat negligible—as Petron wound up with an 8-1 record, its only loss coming against Meralco early in the tournament.
Earlier, Mike Cortez showed he had fully adjusted to the Meralco game as the Bolts broke away from the Air21 Express in the second half on the way to a 100-91 win that put them closer to a top-four berth.
In just his second game with the fifth PBA team of his career, Cortez exploded for nine of his 17 points in the third period while making the rest of the team look good as the Bolts bounced back from a loss to Globalport last week to rise to 5-3.
Meralco has a game left against San Mig Coffee on Friday in what could be the battle for No. 2 and the second twice-to-beat privilege in the quarterfinals.
Mario West topscored with 29 points, and Cliff Hodge had 24 that went with 13 rebounds for Meralco, which suddenly became a high-scoring team with the arrival of Cortez, the former La Salle ace who debuted in the league with Alaska.
“That’s one important win for us,” said Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio. “We were derailed the last time out (against Globalport).”
Cortez also finished with six assists and won Player of the Game honors in a performance that was a far cry from the one he had against the Batang Pier.
“We’ve been having the reputation of being a good defensive team,” Gregorio said. “But if we want to go deep in this tournament, we need some offense. That’s why we traded for Mike Cortez.”
Marcio Lassiter also had 18 points, and Arwind Santos chipped in with 15 and 11 rebounds for Petron.
“We’re trying to create an image for ourselves,” said Petron coach Gee Abanilla. “We want to play the same way no matter if we’re up or down.”
MERALCO 100—West 29, Hodge 24, Cortez 17, Cardona 7, Wilson 6, Salvacion 5, Reyes 4, Hugnatan 4, Ross 2, Timberlake 2, Guevarra 0, Allado 0.
AIR21 91—Graham 22, Canaleta 15, Taulava 14, Custodio 10, Manuel 9, Yeo 9, Ritualo 6, Sharma 4, Atkins 2, Salamat 0, Menor 0, Burtscher 0.
Quarters: 24-17, 45-41, 77-66, 100-91
PETRON 101—Millsap 18, Lassiter 18, Santos 15, Fajardo 13, Cabagnot 12, Kramer 8, Lutz 7, Lanete 5, Deutchman 3, Tubid 2.
GLOBALPORT 90—Cummings 26, Mercado 14, Washington 11, David 11, Taha 6, Nabong 5, Salvador 5, Lingganay 4, Mandani 3, Miller 3, Thiele 2, Belencion 0.
Quarters: 26-23, 54-50, 78-61, 101-90