PBA: Sutton, Taulava power Express, push Batang Pier to elimination
MANILA, Philippines—Air21 staved off another heartbreak and fended off Globalport 106-102 on Wednesday at the Philsports Arena, two days after losing to San Mig in overtime in the 2014 PBA Governors’ Cup.
The Express lost their lead early in the payoff period but recovered in time behind Asi Taulava, import Dominique Sutton, and Jonas Villanueva for their fifth victory.
Air21 succumbed to a painful 109-113 defeat to the Mixers last Monday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Kudos to my team. In spite of us looking so tired. We were able to suck it up,” said head coach Franz Pumaren. “We were able to hang tough even though they made a run.”
The Batang Pier wiped away Air21’s double digit lead in the third quarter and zoomed ahead, 84-80, with a 9-2 run to start the fourth period.
Villanueva inched the Express within a point on a triple in the ensuing play, Dior Lowhorn answered back, but Air21 went on an 8-0 run to seize the advantage for good with 5:03 to play.
Globalport, which was gasping for air amid a five-game losing skid, stayed within two possessions the rest of the way but just couldn’t get ahead anew as Taulava finished the job for Air21.
Sutton led with 28 points and 20 boards including a couple of eye-popping rim rattlers while Taulava, who had to play through a deep gash above his left eye, had 17 points and nine rebounds.
Villanueva, who only played for 17 minutes, scored all but two of his 15 points in the pivotal payoff period for Air21, which kept the fifth spot with a 5-3 card.
The Batang Pier, meanwhile, are officially eliminated from contention with a 1-7 record.
Lowhorn, who kept the Batang Pier in the game in the fourth period by scoring 13, finished with 35 points and 10 rebounds in a losing effort.