MANILA, Philippines — Niño Cañaleta knew what he needed to do to make sure his squad gets that crack at the quarterfinals.
Cañaleta erupted with 41 points, forging a new career-high, to lead Air21’s 113-92 dismantling of also-ran GlobalPort Wednesday in the 2012 PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Kailangang-kailangan namin itong game na ‘to, kaya todo na, wala ng bukas (We badly need this game, that’s why we fought as if there’s no tomorrow),” said Canaleta as his squad is hanging out to the eight spot in the standings.
The Express leaned on a methodical attack, sparked by an 11-0 run early in the third quarter, to break the game wide open after just leading by five at halftime.
Just before that pivotal third quarter ended, Air21 had built an 86-61 edge – it’s biggest of the game — and the chances of making it to the quarterfinals looked brighter.
With a 5-10 record — basically matching their entire output for last season — the Express has earned at least a playoff for the quarterfinals spot.
“The situation out of our hands, we’re just gonna prepare for whatever the outcome,” said head coach Franz Pumaren.
The Batang Pier, despite playing without pressure, just did not match the intensity of the Express especially in the third, where they only scored 12 points.
But behind Rabeh Al-Hussani’s efforts, Globalport (1-12) managed to bring down what was a 25-point lead down to 99-87, with two and half minutes to play.
It was just too late of a comeback for the Batang Pier, though, and Cañaleta still was not done attacking as he scored the nine of the next 11 points for Air21.
Al Hussaini finished with 20 points and seven rebounds, while Gary David added 16. Willier Miller only had four points.
AIR21 113 – Canaleta 41, Sena 18, Reyes 12, Arboleda 8, Omolon 7, Wilson 6, Cortez 5, Ritualo 5, Custodio 4, Isip 4, Andaya 2, Baclao 1, Atkins 0.
GLOBALPORT 92 – Al-Hussaini 20, David 16, Manuel 11, Salvador 11, Mandani 8, Guevarra 5, Antonio 5, Yee 4, Miller 4, Lingganay 3, Vanlandingham 3, Vergara 2, Deutchman 0, Cruz 0, Crisano 0.
Quarters: 30-31, 60-55, 87-67, 113-92
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