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Barako Bull wastes Slaughter’s 20-20, keeps Ginebra winless



After going down by a huge 20 point margin behind the herculean effort of Greg Slaughter, the Barako Bull Energy Cola, behind the heroics of Gilas Pilipinas member JC Intal, led a late-game hijack, 82-79, to keep the Barangay Ginebra Kings winless early Saturday evening at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

The crowd-darlings immediately blasted their opponents in the opening moments of the game as Slaughter pounded the veteran frontline of Barako Bull. The first pick in the 2013 PBA Draft tallied 11 points and four rebounds in the first quarter alone. His offensive onslaught was highlighted by a huge putback dunk off of a Mark Caguioa miss that gave Ginebra a 13-2 lead at the 7:14 mark of the first quarter. Slaughter also anchored the defense well as the Energy Cola were forced to shoot jumpers instead of slashing through the lanes. Moreover, Barako was only able to score their first field goal in the game with 58 seconds to go. The Gin Kings held a huge 29-9 lead to end the first quarter.

After Coach Koy Banal regrouped his troops, Barako Bull responded by intensifying their defense. Knowing that they could not stop Slaughter, who had already notched a double-double with 15 points and 12 boards to end the first half, the defense focused on defending the other Gin Kings. On the offensive end, former Gin Kings Emman Monfort and Mac Baracael led the charge for the Barako Bull bench. Moreover, the tandem of JC Intal and RR Garcia eventually gained the hot hand to tie the game at 57-all to enter the final quarter.

The Gin Kings were able to gain a 65-61 lead behind the duo of Japeth Aguilar and Slaughter. As Slaughter continued to bully his way in the paint, hustle guy Willie Wilson scored on a three-point play while Chico Lanete punched in a triple to cut the lead to just a solitary point, 69-68, with 4:59 to go. The Gin Kings again were able to extend the lead to five but back-to-back three-pointers by Garcia and Mick Pennisi gave Barako the lead 74-73. Slaughter then committed careless turnovers while, in frustration, Ellis was assessed an unsportsmanlike foul that led to free throws by Intal and a jumper by Garcia that extended the Barako lead to eight, 80-73. Late three-pointers by Sol Mercado and LA Tenorio, the latter with 12 seconds to go, cut the lead to just one, 80-79. Ginebra then fouled RR Garcia, who converted on two free throws, to extend the lead to three. A steal by Intal of the inbound sealed the win for Barako Bull.

“First quarter 20 points ata yung lamang nila,” an exhausted JC Intal said. “We just had to come out aggressive in the second quarter and there we just came back.” He added that they had to have this win since they are “coming from a heartbreaking loss against NLEX.”

Koy Banal though credited his boys who were excited to come out and play Ginebra. “All the teams get fired up when they play against Ginebra. Our players prepared themselves mentally and emotionally in this game.” In addition, he said that even in being down, the team made short goals. “We had the goal to make it close by halftime. Then focus on defense. Our offense tonight came from our defense.”

JC Intal played 38 minutes in this game and led the Barako Bull Energy with 22 points on 8/19 shooting. He had three triples in the game and grabbed five boards. Floor general RR Garcia staved off a slow start as he was able to put up 16 points, seven coming from the foul stripe. Veteran sharpshooter Mick Pennisi, who knocked down a crucial three-pointer in the fourth quarter, grabbed ten boards as well.

Greg Slaughter had a monstrous outing in notching a rare 20-20. He had 27 points, on 60% shooting, and grabbed 26 huge boards. LA Tenorio addede 12 points but was just 5/17 from the field.

As a team, Ginebra shot better at 37% compared to just 31% by the victors. However, Barako was able to force Ginebra to 20 turnovers that led to 13 turnover points. Barako Bull was also able to convert on eight more free throws compared to Ginebra.

The Scores:
Barako Bull (82) – Intal 22, Garcia 16, Lanete 8, Baracael 8, Monfort 7, Wilson 6, Pennisi 6, Caperal 6, Cruz 1, Sorongon 0, Urbiztondo 0.
Ginebra (79) – Slaughter 27, Tenorio 12, Ellis 9, Mercado 9, Aguilar 6, Devance 6, Caguioa 6, Salva 2, Marcelo 2, Thompson 0, Helterbrand 0, Brondial 0.
Quarterscores: 9-29, 36-43, 57-57, 82-79.

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Calvin Abueva rejuvenated with return of physical play: ‘Masarap maglaro’



Photo by PBA Images

For Calvin Abueva, it feels great to play in the PBA nowadays.

The Beast, who has always been known as one of the league’s most physical players ever since entering in 2012, was all praises with the way the officiating has become this 43rd season, which is just letting all the players play.

“Mas gumanda yung tawagan ngayon, naging physical nga. Naging exciting para sa mga tao, mas marami na nanonood ngayon eh,” said Abueva moments after their 97-83 victory over Barangay Ginebra, Sunday night.

Like what had been told many times, physicality was something that was controlled over the last two years. Abueva knows it too well, having been a casualty of such as he had paid a bevy of penalties during that time.

And now that it can already be called a thing of the past, the 6-foot-2 bruiser feels much better, knowing that he could display his brand of basketball once more.

“Masarap maglaro, talagang pisikalan,” said the 29-year-old forward from Angeles, Pampanga. “Siyempre makikita naman natin kung sinasadya o hindi, basta katawan lang.

“Pisikal. Yun yung magandang laro di ba?”

Aside from the comeback of physicality, what makes Abueva beam even more is the way the Aces have been playing in the 2018 Philippine Cup. After a 0-2 start in the tourney, they have now booked their third straight win.

“Nung 2017 parang nilubog na namin yung losing streak namin doon. Ito 2018 na at panibagong destination na naman yung ina-ano namin,” said Abueva, who had nine points, nine rebounds, and five assists against Ginebra.

“Sustain muna namin ‘to… Sana magtuloy-tuloy ‘tong winning streak namin.”

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Alaska takes advantage of Greg Slaughter’s absence



For the streaking Alaska Aces, their stunning 97-83 victory over the favored Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on Sunday night was partly made possible by the absence of one key player: seven-foot behemoth Greg Slaughter.

The 28-year-old center, who was averaging 20.67 points and 10.3 rebounds prior to Sunday, did not play against the Aces due to a hamstring injury. How he incurred the injury has yet to be determined.

“There’s a small person named Greg Slaughter who didn’t play; I think he has an impact on the game,” quipped coach Alex Compton after the match.

“[They missed] a guy who I think is gonna win an MVP soon in Greg Slaughter.

“Sometimes dito sa liga natin, you have to take advantage when opportunities come your way. You don’t want anybody to get hurt [though],” added Compton.

With Slaughter out of the way, the Aces’ big men feasted.

Vic Manuel top-billed with 18 points and five rebounds, and elder statesman Sonny Thoss turned back the clock with a 17-point, four-rebound outing.

“Malaking bonus na rin sa amin, kasi wala nga si Greg kaya nakuha namin yung panalo,” said Manuel.

“Yeah it definitely helped,” added the six-foot-seven Thoss, who shot 6-of-12 from the floor and made four of his freebies.

“He’s a big guy, he’s a big presence inside so it took one big guy off our shoulder.”

Slaughter was approached and asked by scribes regarding his injury, but he was not in the mood to comment. No one can blame him, though, since the Barangay have slipped to their second straight defeat after a 2-0 start.

“I’m always there in practice, going over our gameplans. But it’s better if you ask our PT,” he said.

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Alaska completes turnaround at Greg Slaughter-less Ginebra’s expense



Photo by PBA Images

A strong second half surge was all the Alaska Aces needed to turn back the heavily-favored Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 97-83, and book their third straight victory, Sunday night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

The Aces, who have yet to lose this 2018, have now improved to 3-2. Meanwhile, the Barangay absorbed their second straight loss and have dropped to 2-2.

“I was telling the guys na parang ang dami nating iniisip, hindi natin ginagawa yung ginagawa natin noong nakaraang dalawang linggo. Sabi ko relax lang tayo,” said coach Alex Compton, sharing what he told his wards that sparked the win.

Vic Manuel led the Milkmen with 18 points and five rebounds. Sonny Thoss turned back the clock as he made 17 markers on 6-of-12 shooting, while Chris Banchero supplied 14 points, six assists, and five rebounds.

The Aces were trailing by eight, 36-44 at the half, but it became a different ball game come the third chapter as they outscored the Gin Kings, 37 to 19, to erect a favorable 73-63 cushion heading into the game’s final 12 minutes.

From there, Alaska kept their foot on the gas to sustain their lead, which grew to as much as 18, 85-67, after their 6-0 spree — punctuated by Banchero’s lay-up plus a foul — with 6:14 remaining in the final frame.

Ginebra still tried to make one last push as they inched within 10, 75-85, but baskets by Thoss and Kevin Racal propelled Alaska to an 89-75 lead with 3:42 left to play — more than enough to knock out their counterparts.

“I was glad to come away with the win,” added Compton. “Sometimes, we have to take advantage of opportunities coming your way. You don’t want anybody to get hurt but when two number one picks on the other team aren’t playing… There.”

Jvee Casio had 13 markers for Alaska, while Calvin Abueva nearly had a double-double of nine points and nine boards along with five assists in 20 minutes.

Aljon Mariano had 15 points, nine rebounds, and three dimes for Ginebra, who — despite having Sol Mercado back in the fold after ankle issues — missed the services of Joe Devance and Greg Slaughter due to injuries.

Japeth Aguilar, Scottie Thompson, and Kevin Ferrer each scored 12 for the Barangay, with Thompson adding five assists. The trio combined for 15 of Ginebra’s 43 rebounds.

Alaska will aim to extend their streak versus the Blackwater Elite on Saturday, January 27 at 4:30 PM, while Ginebra will look to end their slump against the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Friday, January 26 at 7:00 PM. Both games are at SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:

Alaska 97 — Manuel 18, Thoss 17, Banchero 14, Casio 13, Abueva 9, Teng 9, Cruz 5, Enciso 3, Potts 3, Exciminiano 2, Magat 2, Racal 2, J. Pascual 0.

Ginebra 83 — Mariano 15, J. Aguilar 12, Ferrer 12, Thompson 12, Caguioa 8, Cruz 8, R. Aguilar 5, Tenorio 5, Mercado 2, Taha 2, Wilson 2, Jamito 0.

Quarterscores: 26-23, 36-44, 73-63, 97-83.

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Frustrated Jared Dillinger admits ‘he’s getting sick’ of Meralco’s bad PH Cup runs



It’s no secret that the Meralco Bolts have always struggled in the Philippine Cup for the last three years. During the last two seasons, the eight-year-old franchise’s win-loss tally is four wins and 18 losses.

And in the 2018 edition, the narrative has been the same, with little to no hope of it turning the other way around.

The Bolts bowed to the TNT Katropa, 99-81, Sunday night — their third straight defeat after winning over Blackwater Elite in their opener last December. If things continue to stay as they are, it looks like it will be another poor all-Filipino tilt run is looming.

“We’re 1-3 and there’s nothing to be happy about,” said Jared Dillinger, who had 14 points and five caroms in the match at Ynares Center in Antipolo. “It’s a long season though… We [shouldn’t] panic but it’s not fun right now.

“The Philippine Cup has been our Achilles heel and every damn Philippine Cup we get our ass kicked. I’m getting sick of it.”

In this game, Meralco missed the services of top forwards Ranidel De Ocampo and Cliff Hodge due to injuries. But for Dillinger, those issues shouldn’t be an excuse.

“When you get two guys like Ranidel and Cliff out, as a team, that’s the opportunity for the guys below them to step up,” expressed Dillinger, who has been with the franchise since 2013.

“It doesn’t have to mean scoring, getting the assists or rebound, it’s just making the right play, being smart.”

Asked what went wrong in this particular loss versus their sister team, where they shot just 39.2 percent from the floor and had committed 17 turnovers, the 10-year veteran lamented the poor effort the Bolts put up.

“TNT didn’t do anything much, given that they played well. But they didn’t have any secret schemes against us. They just passed the ball around, and they got open shots,” added the 10-year pro, as TNT made 23 assists and shot 18 triples.

“Our effort wasn’t there. We got to put up the intensity cause it sucks right now.”

Meralco though has a chance to end their slump against Kia this Wednesday. Dillinger sees it as a do-or-die affair, warning that it will be a grind-out affair knowing that the Picanto is coming off a skid-ending win over Rain or Shine.

Do-or-die ’cause that’s gonna be a playoff game. Thank God they beat Rain or Shine ’cause you don’t want to be that one team that gives the win to a 0-16 [team]. You don’t want to play teams like that,” stressed the all-around forward.

“Nothing to take away from Kia though. It’s gonna be tough.”

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