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Bowles explodes anew as Purefoods dismantles second half Talk ‘N Text rally

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49 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, and two blocks from the ever-reliable Denzel Bowles was just what the Purefoods Star Hotshots needed to outgun the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters in crunch time and escape with the 100-94 victory in Game 1 of their semifinals series on Wednesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The first quarter was dominated by Purefoods, with no other than Denzel Bowles leading the charge. The lead changed hands in the first few baskets, but the Hotshots took control three minutes into the game after a couple of baskets from Bowles and Marc Pingris, helped them build a 12-4 lead. With Bowles sinking basket after basket from everywhere he pleased, the lead would grow to double digits shortly before the halfway mark of the quarter. At the end of the first twelve, Purefoods was up 33-17. Bowles exited the period having outscored the entirety of TNT with 18 points off 9-of-10 shooting.

Baskets from Kevin Alas and Jay Washington cut the lead to twelve in the opening minutes of the period, 21-33. A reinvigorated Bowles teamed up with Justin Melton to stifle the brewing Talk ‘N Text run. Just before the halfway point of the quarter, Purefoods led by a still staggering 41-23. It was Jason Castro who provided the spark the Tropang Texters needed. With just around three minutes left, the Gilas standout exploded for seven unanswered points that cut the lead to ten. 35-45. The Star Hotshots were able to fire back in time to pad the lead just in time for the halftime break, 51-36. Talk ‘N Text were held to 33.3% FG shooting and a dismal 2-of-15 from the three-point line. Bowles at the halftime break had 29 points.

Another explosive start from their prized import pushed towed Purefoods to a 21-point lead early in the second half, 62-41. Frontliners Ivan Johnson and Ranidel de Ocampo responded with big baskets to come within sixteen, 53-69. With top defender Marc Pingris subbed out due to a low-grade sprain, the Hotshots’ once staggering lead would be cut down to single digits late in the quarter. Big basket after big basket from TNT’s Castro cut the deficit to eight, 64-72, with just around two minutes left on the clock. A triple from import Johnson cut the lead to five shortly after, 67-72. PJ Simon rose to the occassion for Purefoods, capping off a late flurry that extended the lead to eleven shortly before the buzzer, 81-70.

Still hot from the previous quarter’s rally, the Tropang Texters would continue to sink the right baskets to cut the lead. A trey from Ranidel de Ocampo three minutes into the final period cut the lead to a single digit, 83-84. A bucket from Bowles on the other end stymied the rally for Purefoods. The Hotshots would hold on to the steady lead in the ensuing back-and-forth affair, and with two minutes left they led 93-87.

Two free throws from Matt Ganuelas-Rosser brought TNT to within four, 89-93, with around a minute and a half left to play. Purefoods however put up a series of big stops in the next few possessions, and with around a minute left, a layup by James Yap extended the lead to six. With 48 seconds left to play, a tip in by Barroca. The Purefoods needed only to slow the Tropang Texters down and sink a couple of free throws to ice the win.

Bowles was named Best Player of the Game for his performance. Ivan Johnson led Talk ‘N Text week 33 points. Purefoods now has the 1-0 advantage in their semifinal series.

The Scores:

Purefoods
Bowles 49, Yap 18, Mallari 8, Pingris 6, Simon 5, Barroca 4, Devance 3, Melton 3, Reavis 2, Maliksi 2

Talk ‘N Text
Johnson 33, Castro 19, de Ocampo 15, Fonacier 9, Alas 9, Ganuelas-Rosser 7, Washington 2

Quarters: 33-17, 51-36, 81-70, 100-94

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Fired-up Von Pessumal on Kiefer Ravena incident: ‘I’m not here to make any friends’

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Will bridges be burned?

Von Pessumal was heavily scrutinized on Friday evening after an incident with fellow Ateneo lifer Kiefer Ravena.

It took place with 9:50 left in the final frame of the San Miguel Beermen’s highly-charged tilt against the NLEX Road Warriors. After Marcio Lassiter launched a trey, Pessumal looked like he was aiming for the rebound. Instead, he simply charged towards Ravena and pushed him down.

Lassiter’s three-pointer counted, while Pessumal, who was blocked by Ravena during a fastbreak and then received a staredown moments prior, was whistled for an unsportsmanlike foul.

It was a surprising sight to see considering the amount of time he and Ravena have spent together — a bond that started when they were in high school. Even the second-generation star admitted that he did not expect that from his former running body.

“I did not expect that at all,” said the NLEX rookie.

But Pessumal downplayed the incident despite attempts by scribes to make him elaborate on what had really transpired during that moment.

“It’s part of the game. It’s part of the game,” the league sophomore said after the match which they won 109-98. “I don’t wanna say anything, I’m sorry.

“It’s part of the game. Whatever move on. Not a big deal.”

Asked if he was motivated to face Ravena — with whom he had shared three UAAP juniors titles, two UAAP seniors crowns, and a SEA Games gold medal — the 24-year-old shared that he had approached Friday’s bout the way he usually does.

“I wouldn’t say motivated [versus Kiefer], I mean, it’s just like any other game. When I play, I don’t see who’s guarding me, I just play,” said the 6-foot-2 swingman.

“I play to win all the time.”

The incident he and Ravena figured in shadowed his performance of 10 points on 50 percent shooting off the bench — the second time he has scored in double figures this season. After Friday, Pessumal is averaging 8.25 points.

“We have to sustain the level of excellence that they (starters) have. Our job is — I wouldn’t say support, but — when we get in, we should bring the level higher so when they come back, the game is easier for them,” he said.

Pessumal was then asked if he and Ravena met each other after the buzzer sounded, as the two did not even shake hands after the contest. But, through a short yet strong response, the 24-year-old said that they did not.

“I wouldn’t say anything. I don’t know, after the game?,” he expressed.

“I’m a professional basketball player, I’m not here to make any friends.”

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Yeng Guiao denies using racial slur against Chris Ross

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During the post-game of the San Miguel Beermen’s victory over the NLEX Road Warriors, reigning Coach of the Year Leo Austria said that NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao called Chris Ross the “N” word that caused the commotion.

According to Chris, tinawagan siya ng nigger or ganiyan,” said Austria. “I don’t know but that’s what he explained to me because I confronted Chris Ross because he’s one of the most important players in my team.

“But that’s the thing he doesn’t want to hear so nagflare up yung bata so I cannot blame him.”

Guiao though denied that he blurted out racial slurs against San Miguel’s Chris Ross.

“Hindi. Hindi ko tinawag na N-word. Ewan ko kung may nakarinig. Pero hindi,” clarified the fiery tactician moments after their 98-109 defeat, their third straight after starting the 2018 Philippine Cup with two straight wins.

That tussle, according to Guiao, was just filled with trash talking against each other, as he felt the need to retaliate. In fact, Guiao was even caught by the TV camera saying “son of a bitch” towards the Filipino-American point guard.

“Daldal siya ng daldal eh. Eh sa akin naman kapag ganon, siguro respeto nalang. Lumayo ka nalang tutal mananalo naman na kayo,” he said. “I didn’t understand what he was saying, what he was talking about.

“Nakipagtrash-talking din ako sa kanya.”

Furthermore, the 58-year-old was also caught by the cameras flipping the bird — in one quick motion — also against Ross.

“Oo. Kasama na rin yun.

“Pero ano naman eh, it’s part of, siguro, psychological warfare. Malakas din siya mang-asar. Hindi lang naman sa amin. Everytime naman na mga ganoong skirmishes, he also knows what he’s capable of,” the seven-time champion coach furthered.

But more than this scuffle, it really has become a stressful time for Guiao and the Road Warriors. They have now went down to 2-3 in the team standings, and the mentor sees the great need to end this slump immediately.

“We have to arrest it very soon. Ang susunod na laro namin ay versus Rain or Shine sa Friday. So we need to go back to 50 percent win-loss level para at least may chance ka na maka-playoffs. That’s going to be a crucial game for us,” he stressed.

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Kiefer Ravena shocked with Von Pessumal’s shove: ‘I did not expect that at all’

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Kiefer Ravena and Von Pessumal have been teammates ever since they were in high school, winning three UAAP juniors crowns together. They won two championships together in the seniors level and even played together in Gilas. They were inseparable.

Friday evening however, they were playing for separate camps.

Ravena admitted that he never expected a shove to come from Pessumal during the NLEX Road Warriors’ clash with San Miguel Beermen.

In an off-ball situation, Pessumal charged at Ravena, sending the rookie down to the floor with 9:50 remaining in the final frame. He was then whistled for an unsportsmanlike foul, and Ravena sank one from the line.

“I did not expect that at all,” admitted Ravena after the match in which they lost, 98-109 — their third straight defeat after a 2-0 start. “But hopefully Von doesn’t take it personal.

“I’m just doing my job. They won the game.”

Ravena insisted that there wasn’t any physicality between him and Pessumal prior to that, but he thinks that his former Gilas teammate may have gotten irked by his staredown after blocking him on a fastbreak play early in the fourth.

“When that fastbreak happened — the same exact possession na I challenged him, I looked at him, and after that yun na yung nangyari,” said the 23-year-old guard. “But I never instigated something to provoke Von to do that.

“Probably nung tinignan ko siya.”

Moreover, the second overall pick of the 2017 PBA Rookie Draft felt that that incident “started all the commotions during the end game (laughs). Yun yung pinaka-una eh. And with that, the team got fired up and it worked for them.”

He may be right, for the game saw more skirmishes after that: from teammate Michael Miranda kicking Chris Ross to the groin, and with his head coach Yeng Guiao figuring in a heated verbal war also against Ross.

But then, Ravena made it clear that it was never a plan of his to put down somebody, especially someone like Pessumal who he sees as a brother for life.

“You know, Von and I, we go way back. Things like this hopefully don’t become too personal.

“I have no intention na ipapahiya yung tao or sasaktan mo yung tao. Wala namang ganun. Laro-laro lang,” said NLEX’s leading scorer.

It was somehow a night to remember for Ravena, but for all the wrong reasons. After Friday’s loss that sent their card to 2-3, the veteran internationalist now sees the need for him and the Road Warriors to push the panic button.

“‘Di na pwedeng sabihin palaging kailangan namin matuto eh. Pangatlong sunod na,” the second-generation cager expressed.

“Kailangan siguro naming umaksyon.”

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Downcast Chris Ross chooses to stay mum after heated altercation with Yeng Guiao

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Through wins or losses, Chris Ross has always accommodated the members of the press asking for interviews and fans requesting for photo ops every after game. But Friday evening, the nine-year pro was despondent.

Visibly agitated with the events that had transpired during the San Miguel Beermen’s tilt against the NLEX Road Warriors, Ross, with his hoodie covering his head, left the Cuneta Astrodome without saying a word.

The reigning Defensive Player of the Year had figured in physical play after physical play and verbal exchange after verbal exchange with the frustrated Road Warriors.

Ross and Alex Mallari were both slapped with technicals after a confrontation with 9:06 left. This was just the start of many things to come for the Filipino-American defensive specialist

After knocking down a triple and receiving a taunt from Ross, Michael Miranda was assessed a disqualifying foul for an apparent kick to the groin against Ross with 4:35 left.

The tip of the iceberg came with 1:46 left to play and the game all but settled.

Yeng Guiao and Ross figured in a heated word war that resulted in Ross’ second technical foul for the game. Referees and players from both sides had to separate the two to prevent things from escalating.

San Miguel coach Leo Austria alleged that the fiery NLEX mentor said the “N” word, while some said Guiao called Ross a “bitch”.

Ross finished the game with four points, eight rebounds, and four steals in 37 minutes of action.

For sure, penalties and suspensions will come out of this game.

And it was better for Ross to stay silent.

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