B-Meg claims playoff spot; Barako scoresBy Musong R. Castillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
B-Meg roared to a fifth straight win and practically bagged the first playoff seat in the PBA Governors’ Cup after dismantling Alaska, 77-61, Wednesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Playing what coach Tim Cone said was their best defense ever since he took over, the Llamados held the Aces to eight third quarter points to set the tables up for the rout and rise to 5-1 overall and the solo lead.
And B-Meg, the reigning Commissioner’s Cup champ, did it even with import Marcus Blakely riding the bench for majority of the second half because of a suspected concussion suffered after taking an accidental elbow from Sonny Thoss early in the third.
Alaska, meanwhile, took a fourth straight defeat flush on the kisser and at 1-5, is the likeliest candidate for an early ouster.
Blakely still went on to shoot 13 points and share team-high honors with JC Intal and PJ Simon.
Jason Forte had 24 points and 20 rebounds to pace the Aces, who were held to the lowest output by any team this conference. Those 61 points also tied the fourth lowest mark in franchise history.
Leroy Hickerson remained undefeated on Philippine soil, pumping in 38 points and coming close to a triple double in lifting Barako Bull to a 109-100 victory over Air21 in the first game.
Hickerson shot 60 percent from the field, pulled down eight rebounds and had eight assists in 43 minutes of action as the Energy won for the second straight time and rose to the upper half of the pack with a 3-2 record.
The loss was the third straight in a 1-4 card for the Express, who got 41 points and 17 rebounds from import Zach Graham but trailed by as many as 15 points late in the game.
Graham is the tournament’s leading scorer with an average of close to 36 points.
“It was a monster game from Leroy,” Barako Bull coach Junnel Baculi told reporters later of Hickerson.
BARAKO BULL 109—Hickerson 38, Pennisi 14, Kramer 10, Najorda 9, Cruz 9, Miller 8, Allado 8, Cervantes 7, Tubid 6, Weinstein 0, Sharma 0.
AIR21 100—Graham 41, Sena 16, Isip 11, Omolon 10, Hubalde 6, Salamat 5, Arboleda 5, Espiritu 4, Menor 2, Sison 0, Faundo 0, Ritualo 0.
Quarters: 33-23, 53-47, 80-69, 109-100
B-MEG 77—Blakely 13, Intal 13, Simon 13, Urbiztondo 8, Yap 8, Pingris 7, De Ocampo 6, Reavis 5, Barroca 4, Acuna 0, Gaco 0, Burstcher 0, Bono 0, Villanueva 0.
ALASKA 61—Forte 24, Tenorio 17, Thoss 10, Baguio 5, Baracael 2, Cablay 2, Espinas 1, Jazul 0, Custodio 0, Eman 0, Gonzales 0, Dela Cruz 0.
Quarters: 20-24, 38-38, 60-46, 77-61