PBA: Air21 stops TNT’s win run
MANILA, Philippines—Air21 coach Franz Pumaren hit it right on the head when he said that they got a big one.
The Express landed an enormous catch Wednesday night by downing erstwhile undefeated Talk ‘N Text, 89-78, in a PBA Commissioner’s Cup game that saw Pumaren’s locals stepping up to overcome the worst offensive game of Marcus Douthit so far.
“They (Tropang Texters) started flat and we grabbed the opportunity,” Pumaren told reporters after winning just his second game as a PBA head coach by getting sterling games from his much-maligned local lineup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“My locals really responded well and we were able to get a big one.”
Bitoy Omolon scored 15 points in the first period and finished with 23 and four others drilled in 12 or better to offset a lethargic five-point night by the naturalized national team slotman Douthit.
Meralco kept its flickering playoff hopes alive later in the night by using an 18-point third quarter lead as buffer before stopping Barangay Ginebra, 89-80, to rise to 2-4 overall.
Earl Barron scattered 27 points that went with 11 rebounds and Mac Cardona had 25 as the B-Boys snapped a three-game losing skid while also denying the Gin Kings the opportunity to grab the solo lead after the Talk ‘N Text loss.
Ginebra, whose import Jackson Vroman was saddled by fouls early, dropped to 3-2. Vroman finished with 19 points and 14 rebounds. Mark Caguioa shared scoring honors with Vroman and the two were the only ones who finished in twin digits for the Kings.
Offense was the only aspect in last night’s game that Douthit did not contribute heavily in, though, as the 6-foot-11 PH team mainstay snared a PBA-career-high-tying 26 boards in 42 minutes despite being under the weather.
And after stopping the Texters dead on their tracks, Pumaren, whose Express had gone winless in 14 games in the Philippine Cup, said he now sees his team making the playoffs.
“It’s free to dream about it anyway,” Pumaren said. “Marcus is tailor fit for us and the locals are responding. It’s a different team compared to the previous conference.”
Talk ‘N Text, which lost for the first time in four games, unveiled a new import in Donnell Harvey. But the defending champion Texters were in tatters all game, trailing by as many as 15 in the third and losing steam after coming to within 66-67.
Harvey scored 21 points despite missing a lot of point-blank attempts.
AIR21 89—Omolon 23, Duncil 16, Isip16, Jazul 12, Sena 8, Douthit 6, Ritualo 4, Sison 2, Hubalde 2, Escobal 0, Aquino 0.
TALK ‘N TEXT 78—Harvey 21, De Ocampo 13, Castro 12, Fonacier 11, Dillinger 8, Alapag 7, Gamalinda 2, Carey 2, Peek 2, Aguilar 0, Reyes 0, Williams 0.
Quarters: 25-18, 42-37, 64-58, 89-78
MERALCO 89—Barron 27, Cardona 25, Mercado 17, Hugnatan 8, Espinas 6, Ross 2, Borboran 2, Taulava 2, Timberlake 0, Macapagal 0.
GINEBRA 80—Vroman 19, Caguioa 19, Villanueva 8, Ababou 7, Mamaril 6, Cortez 6, Helterbrand 4, Labagala 3, Canaleta 3, Raymundo 3, Wilson W. 2, Hatfield 0.
Quarters: 16-22, 41-35, 66-50, 89-80
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