Tiongson erupts for 2nd straight career-high as Terrafirma shocks Ginebra
It was quite the surprise that Juami Tiongson completed two days ago, punching in a career-high output and leading Terrafirma to an upset over a tournament dark horse.
So to prove that performance was no fluke, he decided to top it—by readjusting his career best and bringing down the tournament favorite.
Tiongson had 31 points as the Dyip shocked Barangay Ginebra, 95-90, in the PBA Philippine Cup on Friday at Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.
“It wouldn’t be possible without coach John (Cardel),” Tiongson said after the game. “He just lets me be. He lets me make mistakes, lets me get creative. Also, having Matt Ganuelas [-Rosser] here helped me, too. His experience, his maturity—it’s a big thing.”
The former Ateneo standout accounted for nine of Terrafirma’s 17 triples—Tiongson took 15 attempts from deep for a scorching 60 percent clip—that helped the club notch its first-ever victory over the crowd darlings since the franchise entered the league in 2014.
Tiongson came off a 28-point outing, his previous career moment, in Terrafirma’s shock 110-104 win over San Miguel Beer on Wednesday.
He certainly was a key sparkplug for the Dyip, who entered the semibubble on the back of four straight losses and also lost top rookie Joshua Munzon to injury.
Now, Terrafirma has stopped the last two all-Filipino champions and has a chance to rack up a third straight victory when it faces league doormat Blackwater (0-6) on Sunday.
“During the past weeks, coach John (Cardel) and the rest of the coaching staff put in new plays to help the shooters get free,” said Tiongson. “We’re not that predictable in offense. I think the coaching staff really did a good job.”
The Bossing, meanwhile, took the exact reverse route the Dyip traversed: After taking a 20-point drubbing from TNT on Wednesday, they absorbed a 94-78 defeat to Magnolia on Friday.
Eager to put behind a previous loss to Meralco that halted their win run, the Hotshots turned to veterans Ian Sangalang and Mark Barroca, who each had 16 points in the victory.
“We were really sad and frustrated [after the Meralco game]. We relaxed and then we lost,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero.
“I told my players that it will not happen again. It was a mental breakdown … in the last two minutes,” he added.
Magnolia next plays TNT in a smashing Sunday showdown featuring two teams that have been doing well so far in the tournament.
“As I’ve said, the team that could adjust right away—whether from a bad loss or a very good win—that’s the team that will have a chance to be successful in this bubble,” said Victolero.
Terrafirma will try to prove it can adjust from a very good win in its game against Blackwater, which has lost all its games by an average of 15.8 points per game. The Bossing have been so terrible in the Philippine Cup they’ve lost via a single-digit margin just once—and barely: a nine-point loss to Rain or Shine that could have been a blowout if the Elasto Painters had figured out how to shoot the ball this conference (they shot a frosty 32 percent in the 71-62 win over Blackwater and are at 34 percent for the tournament).
But the Terrafirma coaching staff is less concerned about the players on the other end of the court as it is with their own guys.
“I told the players, I don’t pressure [you] to win. I’m just pressuring [you] to play better, play as a team, play defense, play offense, be patient. The wins will come in the end,” said Cardel.
That has seemed to work so far, with the team stunning two league powerhouses back-to-back.
Skipper Aldrech Ramos, Rashawn McCarthy and Eric Camson also chipped in double-digit scores for Terrafirma, with Camson converting a tough layup off an Andreas Cahilig hustle play that pushed Ginebra behind by six with 17 seconds left in the game.
Christian Standhardinger had 17 to pace the Gin Kings, and even with five others finishing with 11 or more, Ginebra couldn’t avoid dropping to a 2-3 slate.