An electrifying PBA start | Inquirer Sports
Wild Card

An electrifying PBA start

THE SECOND tournament of the Philippine Basketball Association was off to an exciting start last week with the doormat of the recent Philippine Cup now showing the way with two victories and the import who powered TNT to victory last year failing to even last the first quarter when he returned for another tour of duty with the defending champion Texters.

The biggest disappointment of the All-Filipino series with a 1-11 win-loss record, Meralco now shows the way with a 2-0 start capped by an 88-84 win over TNT on Saturday in a game where Ivan Johnson ended up getting banned for life by league commissioner Chito Narvasa after an unsportsmanlike outburst.

The Bolts got going with a 90-86 decision of the Star Hotshots on Wednesday after drawing a solid performance from last-minute substitute Arinze Onuaku, who took over from the injured Malcolm Thomas. Onuaku played less than 24 hours after arriving and had no practice at all with the team but still scored 25 points and grabbed 22 rebounds.

Johnson actually missed the TNT’s opening game on Wednesday as he served a one-game suspension on top of a P50,000 fine for fighting with two Mahindra players during a tuneup encounter. But the Texters managed to scrape past Blackwater with an all-Filipino roster bolstered by the return of Ranidel de Ocampo from a conference-long sick leave.

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Two hard Johnson fouls—the first hitting Meralco center Kelly Nabong in the mouth with a forearm and the second an elbow to the temple of Bryan Faundo—resulted in two technicals that meant an automatic ejection. Then Johnson compounded his woes by unleashing profanities at Narvasa on his way to the dugout. The commissioner wasted no time lowering the boom on the volatile American.

Aside from the lifetime ban, Johnson was also slapped with a P250,000 fine. Last year, Johnson was fined P150,000 for bumping Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao in the title series between the Texters and the Elasto Painters.

Meanwhile, import Al Thornton scattered 50 points—10 in overtime—to lift NLEX to an upset of Barangay Ginebra, even as Mahindra finally conquered GlobalPort, 111-98, despite a 41-point effort from Terrence Romeo.

Action is expected to pick up some more with Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beer and losing finalist Alaska finally seeing action this week.

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Also worth watching is the current form of Miguel Tabuena, who more than validated his selection as one of the three Athlete of the Year awardees for 2015 by the Philippine Sportswriters Association (the two others are world boxing champions Nonito Donaire Jr. and Donnie Nietes) by winning the ICTSI Anvaya Cove Invitational golf championship Saturday in Morong, Bataan.

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The three-stroke win dramatized the superb game of Tabuena, who came into the final round trailing by four after a big meltdown in the third round. He had a sizzling record 62 in the first and a 70 the next day.

The win was worth P650,000 for the 22-year-old reigning Philippine Open champion who is running fifth in this year’s Asian Tour Order of Merit with total earnings of $50,093.

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Up next for Tabuena is the $3-million Maybank Championship Malaysia, set Feb. 18 to 21 at Royal Selangor Club in Kuala Lumpur. Also entered are 2011 Asian OOM winner Juvic Pagunsan, Lascuña and Jobim Carlos.

TAGS: Basketball, Philippine Basketball Association

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