Columbian coach Johnedel Cardel set the quarterfinals as the primary goal for the Dyip in the season-ending PBA Governors’ Cup.
The Dyip got the start they needed to meet that target, holding off a new-look Alaska side, 117-110, in Friday night’s encounter at Mall of Asia Arena.
“One thing: We have a good import … I’m not just happy. I’m overjoyed,” said Cardel, whose stewardship of this unproven but promising Columbian crew for the past three conferences has earned praise from top coaches.
Much of the Columbian mentor’s excitement was rooted in the brilliant performances of Khapri Alston, who fired 38 points and grabbed 22 rebounds, and rookie CJ Perez, who accounted for 28 and 13.
“[It] felt good for my first time playing here. I felt I really helped our team tonight,” said Alston.
Perez stressed that his performance was merely a natural consequence of Alaska’s defense focusing on Alston.
Perez has been on a high lately, delivering one of the few notable performances for Gilas Pilipinas in the World Cup.
Amid the pile of losses that left the country languishing at last place in the 32-team tournament, Perez was a bright spot, along with fellow rookie Robert Bolick of NorthPort, who also shone in his Governors’ Cup debut.
Bolick helped NorthPort weather gutsy Rain or Shine, 99-94, in the nightcap.
Import Mychal Ammons led the way for NorthPort with 25 points and 19 rebounds, but it was Bolick who helped seal the deal.
“The ending was a bit awful,” said coach Pido Jarencio. “But a win is a win. We’re not perfect. (Rain or Shine) scared us. But we still got the happy ending.”
Bolick delivered 20 points and five assists off the bench, also nailing the free throws that sucked the air out of Rain or Shine’s rally.
“He’s such a smart kid,” Jarencio said.
Meanwhile, Alaska big man Noynoy Baclao will undergo anMRI on Saturday to determine the extent of his knee injury he suffered in the fourth quarter against Columbian.
Baclao had an awkward fall and doctors suspect he may have suffered a dislodged patella.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.