San Miguel, Ginebra go different ways against separate foes
Playing with boundless energy right from the opening tip, Magnolia went on to deal Barangay Ginebra an 89-79 beating as the Hotshots sustained their hot PBA Philippine Cup start to gain a share of the elimination round lead on Saturday night at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Paul Lee and Ian Sangalang took turns in dealing the hurt on the Gin Kings, who absorbed a second loss in three games. Lee and Sangalang were the heroes in an 84-82 nipping of Alaska last Friday when they conspired in the game-winning play at the buzzer.
“As soon as we started practicing and as soon as the season began, we were always reminded of our start in last year’s bubble,” Lee, the spitfire Magnolia guard, said shortly after finishing with 22 points in 31 minutes. “We were 7-4 in the standings, yet we still wound up at No. 7. We don’t want that to happen anymore,” he added.
Barangay Ginebra is the defending champion here and is fancied to at least make the title series again. Meanwhile, San Miguel, seen to be the Kings’ most logical foe with June Mar Fajardo back to active duty, was better off than the Kings in an earlier game.
Arwind Santos hit his signature 15-foot jumper with 1.2 ticks remaining as the Beermen eked out an 88-86 victory over NorthPort and the returning Greg Slaughter.
This, just seconds after he nearly doomed the Beermen for sending the Batang Pier’s Robert Bolick to the stripe after hitting Sidney Onwubere with an elbow during a lull.
“I just realized how much I’ve missed this [being the hero]. For me, I’m no longer thinking about my age, instead, I’m thinking of ways how to contribute,” said Santos, who had 17 points.
CJ Perez led the Beermen with 18 points.
It was the second-straight win for San Miguel, which improved to 2-1 and spoiled Slaughter’s debut with the NorthPort.“I knew this would become a tough game for us because of the presence of Greg. We know Greg is out there to prove something,” San Miguel’s Leo Austria said.Slaughter led NorthPort with 23 points and 17 rebounds after sitting out the Batang Pier’s first two games, while Bolick finished with 19 to go with eight boards and six assists.
Not really pretty
“[T]he veterans stepped up tonight. It’s [such a] pleasure to have them,” said Austria after drawing 16 points from skipper Alex Cabagnot and 11 from Mo Tautuaa.It wasn’t the prettiest of games for the PBA’s most decorated club. Austria described the finish “ugly,” and the resulting win “ugly beautiful.” But it was just what San Miguel needed to prepare themselves for the trek ahead.
“After Blackwater on Wednesday, we have two big teams: Barangay Ginebra and Magnolia. This [win] is badly needed for us. And I’m happy we snatched this game because this could give us some momentum heading into those next three games,” he said.
Sangalang, who hit the game-winning shot against the Aces, chipped in with 17 with Mark Barroca and Calvin Abueva accounting for 15 apiece that helped Magnolia rise to 3-0 and catch idle impressive Rain or Shine at the top.
For Chito Victolero, however, remaining undefeated was hardly a reason to celebrate.
“Just like what I said before: one game at a time. We’ll just try to prepare for our next game. There’s still a lot that can happen. We can’t afford to relax,” he said.
“We have an ultimate goal, so we will try to find ways how to prepare hard for that and to win.”Stanley Pringle had 22 for the crowd darlings, who pulled within 79-77 inside the final four minutes. But sorry misses kept the Gin Kings from completing a comeback, and ultimately, getting a streak going in the tournament where they are billed to win it all again.