BARAKO Bull blew an 11-point first half lead and had to come back from 10 down in the final five minutes last night to nip Air21, 91-86, and get back into the PBA Commissioner’s Cup groove at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Josh Urbiztondo spearheaded a dizzying 17-0 run by the Energy to wipe out a 71-81 deficit and send Barako Bull to its third win in four outings, a mighty rebound from a heart-rending loss to league-leader Alaska a few nights ago.
“The character of this team is that they fight until the end,” consultant Rajko Toroman said. “We found a way to win this game. We are still growing up, but at the end of the day, it’s a very sweet win.”
Urbiztondo was firing blanks in the first three periods and Toroman had no choice but to stick with him with Jonas Villanueva forced out of the game early in the fourth quarter because of a feared right hamstring pull.
“This is maybe the most important win for us because of difficult circumstances,” Toroman said. “Josh didn’t play a good first three quarters, but he was one of the best in the end.”
Urbiztondo hit three triples and 13 points in the fourth period and import Evan Brock finished with 23 points and 15 rebounds for the Energy, who dealt the Express a second straight loss in a 1-2 card.
JC Intal fired 16 points and showed his worth in just his second game back, even as Danny Seigle contributed 10 points in just 21 minutes for Toroman.
Michael Dunigan paced the Express with 30 points, 19 rebounds and two blocks and Niño Canaleta fired 15.
Meanwhile, Vernon Macklin debuts for Barangay Ginebra today, looking to take the Gin Kings out of their miseries when they clash with the unbeaten Aces in a road game presented by Phoenix Fuels at the Mindanao Civic Center in Tubod, Lanao del Norte.
A legitimate NBA veteran, Macklin flew in to take the place of Herbert Hill.
BARAKO 91—Brock 23, Intal 16, Urbiztondo 15, Seigle 10, Villanueva 9, Maliksi 7, Pennisi 5, Kramer 3, Allado 2, Macapagal 1, Weinstein 0.
AIR21 86—Dunigan 30, Canaleta 15, Cortez 14, Ritualo 7, Arboleda 6, Wilson 4, Custodio 4, Isip 4, Omolon 2, Atkins 0, Sena 0, Baclao 0, Menor 0, Reyes 0.
Quarters: 27-18, 46-47, 61-66, 91-86