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Basketball

Jericho Cruz takes over as Rain or Shine hands Star first loss

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The Beau Belga-less Rain or Shine Elasto Painters played the role of streak-busters on Sunday night as they put an end to the Star Hotshots’ four-game winning run, 92-88, to sustain their own run at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

The win is the Elasto Painters’ third straight, and they have now improved to 4-2. The Hotshots, meanwhile, dropped to 4-1 to tie with sister team Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, whom they will face exactly a week from now.

“Finally we were able to beat Star this season. Akala ko hindi na kami mananalo diyan sa Star,” said Rain or Shine head coach Caloy Garcia, alluding to their winless outings versus the Hotshots in the season’s first two conferences.

“It’s all defense. It started in the first half. The energy was there, the effort was there,” he declared.

Five Elasto Painters scored in double figures, with J’Nathan Bullock leading the pack with 18 points to go with 11 rebounds and five assists. Jericho Cruz also produced 18 markers, with 12 coming from the payoff period.

The E-Painters even led by as much as 20 in the third, but the Hotshots rallied strong in the payoff period and knocked within distance, 88-83, after back-to-back buckets from Ian Sangalang and Paul Lee with 39 ticks left to play.

That was to be Star’s final wind, though. They played the fouling game to freeze the clock, but Rain or Shine sank their freebies calmly. Gabe Norwood’s charities in the 17.9 mark gave them a 92-85 lead, enough to serve as the finishing touches.

The returning Norwood immediately made an impact with 15 points and 11 caroms. Fellow returnee Raymond Almazan chipped in 13 markers and 14 rebounds, while Maverick Ahanmisi supplied 10 and five boards.

Malcom Hill topbilled for the Hotshots with 26 points and 20 rebounds. Paul Lee backed him up with 17 points on 17 shots with seven boards.

Rain or Shine will look to sustain their run versus the San Miguel Beermen on, September 6 Wednesday, at 7:00 PM, while Star will face the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel for a Manila Clasico bout next Sunday, September 3, at 6:45 PM. Both games will be at the Big Dome.

The Scores:

Rain or Shine 92 – Bullock 18, Cruz 18, Norwood 15, Almazan 13, Ahanmisi 10, Matias 5, Borboran 5, Daquioag 5, Tiu 3, Ponferada 0, Yap 0, Maiquez 0, Trollano 0.

Star 88 – Hill 26, Lee 17, Sangalang 11, Maliksi 10, Jalalon 8, Barroca 4, Ramos 4, Simon 3, Melton 3, Reavis 2, Brondial 0, Pingris 0, Dela Rosa 0.

Quarterscores: 15-15, 41-30, 68-56, 92-88.

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Basketball

Glenn Khobuntin repays Ricky Dandan’s trust with end-game heroics

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FILE Photo from PBA Images

Glenn Khobuntin can finally say that he had himself a moment in the pro ranks

The National University alumnus proved his worth for Kia Picanto, scoring his team’s final six points to steer the often-ridiculed club to its’ first win after a historic 16-game skid at the expense of Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 98-94.

“I knew he would. I knew he would,” lauded Kia head coach Ricky Dandan of the takeover the six-foot-four forward made.

“It was a blessing he didn’t play for the first two quarters because he [came in] fresh at gigil na gigil.”

Khobuntin finished with 11 markers on 5-of-7 shooting — the best game he’s had so far not because of the numbers he posted but with the way he made it. But the three-year pro does not want to take the spotlight all by himself.

“Hindi lang din naman ako e, kami ding lahat e,” the 26-year-old shared. “Siguro kumbaga nagka-opportunity lang, napunta sa akin yung bola kasi yun yung nasa scheme ng play so ayun.

“Thankful lang ako na-hit ko yung mga na-design na plays.”

However, the third-year pro admitted that he got frightened during the game’s final stretch, as Rain or Shine managed to impose a serious threat by coming back from a seven-point deficit, 94-96, with just less than 22 ticks left to play.

“Kinakabahan ako kasi two minutes pa rin yun e tapos Rain or Shine yung kalaban namin,” the native of Cagayan de Oro said. “Nakita ko nakakabalik sila. Thankful lang naman ako na yung game napunta sa amin, at least natapos yung losing streak namin.”

But more than the end of their months-long slump, what Khobuntin is grateful for is the trust given to him by Dandan, who fielded him as a starter in the second half after sitting out the entirety of the first 24 minutes.

“Nag-decide siya na ako yung i-start niya so thankful ako kasi nagtiwala siya sa akin.”

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Justin Brownlee, Alab lock down Knights for fifth win

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Paying a visit to Indonesia for the first time this season, Tanduay Alab Pilipinas needed time to figure the CLS Knights out before stifling the hosts in the final frame to take a 92-87 road win, Saturday evening at the GOR CLS Kertajaya in Indonesia.

This is Alab’s second straight win after losing to the Singapore Slingers last January 10.

With the win, the Philippine-based club team lifts its slate to 5-4 for solo fourth. CLS, on the other hand, dropped to 1-7 — just half a game ahead of the cellar-dwelling Formosa Dreamers.

Justin Brownlee displayed his all-around brilliance in the game, leading Alab with 36 points on 15-for-24 shooting to go along with eight rebounds, seven assists, and three steals.

Alab’s bench however could not sustain the effort of the starters that led to them clinging to a two-point lead with 7:06 remaining.

Needing a sparkplug, 40-year-old sniper Dondon Hontiveros provided the spark for Alab, knocking down a triple that proved to be the starting point 14-2 Alab run. A jumper by Bobby Ray Parks Jr. with 2:57 left capped the rally and gave Alab an 87-73 lead.

Hontiveros scored five of the eight Alab bench points. Fortunately for Alab, Renaldo Balkman and Bobby Ray Parks Jr. were on-point with the former tallying a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds while Alab’s skipper had 14 points, four assists, two rebounds, two steals, and two blocks.

Coach Jimmy Alapag fielded his bench afterwards that resulted to the quintet of Brian Williams, Mario Wuysang, Arif Hidayat, Decorey Jones, and Sandy Kurniawan to slice the lead to as low as four points. Free throws by Oping Sumalinog with eight ticks left put CLS away for good.

Williams paced CLS with 22 points and 14 rebounds while Kurniawan added 19 markers. Indonesian legend Wuysang had 17 points and six rebounds in the loss.

Alab ends its road trip on Sunday, January 28 when they take on the Saigon Heat at the CIS Arena in Ho Chi Minh City.

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Paul Lee, Hotshots outlast Fuel Masters to extend win streak to three

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Photo by PBA Images

A late-game rally by the Magnolia Hotshots was more than enough to repel a hungry Phoenix Fuel Masters side, 97-91, for their third consecutive victory, Saturday night at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.

The Hotshots have now improved to 4-1, while the Fuel Masters absorbed their second loss in a row and have dropped to 2-3, creating a four-way logjam with Rain or Shine, Blackwater, and NLEX in the team standings.

“It was all mental toughness in the end. It was about our perseverance, our desire to win, and chemistry sa dulo,” said Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero. “Thankful ako sa players kasi they didn’t, give in sa pressure.”

Paul Lee led the charge with 20 points — despite shooting 33 percent — along with five rebounds. Rome Dela Rosa supplied 17 markers on 9-of-10 free throw shooting, while Ian Sangalang had 16 points and seven rebounds.

The Fuel Masters were actually ahead, 89-84, with 3:01 remaining in the fourth, but lost gas afterwards as the Hotshots pulled off a 9-0 rally — punctuated by Lee’s freebies — to build a 93-89 lead with just 42.1 seconds left to play.

Phoenix, even after Gelo Alolino sinking free throws to make it 91-93, never had any chance of yielding the upset ax. Rafi Reavis’ follow-up off a Lee miss with 12.5 ticks left proved to be the dagger that put Phoenix down once and for all.

Mark Barroca had 12 points for Magnolia. Reavis had himself 11 points and 11 rebounds, while Marc Pingris, despite scoring just four, hauled down 17 rebounds, dished out four assists, and blocked two shots.

Alolino led Phoenix with 19 points on 70 percent shooting. Jeff Chan provided 12 markers, four boards, and four dimes, and Matthew Wright gave 17 points on a horrid 7-of-19 shooting on top of four caroms, three feeds, and two steals.

Magnolia will aim to keep their streak alive against TNT next Saturday, January 27, at 6:45 PM, while Phoenix will try to end their skid versus Ginebra on January 26, Friday at 7:00 PM. Both games will be at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:

Magnolia 97 – Lee 20, Dela Rosa 17, Sangalang 16, Barroca 12, Reavis 11, Simon 6, Jalalon 5, Pingris 4, Ramos 3, Pascual 2, Herndon 1, Melton 0.

Phoenix 91 – Alolino 19, Wright 17, Chan 12, Jazul 9, Eriobu 8, Chua 7, Mendoza 6, Kramer 6, Intal 3, Revilla 2, Perkins 2, Wilson 0, Dehesa 0.

Quarterscores: 30-23, 47-45, 67-75, 97-91.

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Eric Camson apologetic after brawl with Raymond Almazan

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Photo by PBA Images

Eric Camson plans to take the high road

Kia forward Eric Camson was deeply apologetic for the brawl he got into with Rain or Shine’s Raymond Almazan during the Picanto-Elasto Painters match on Saturday, saying that it had not been his intention to hurt somebody.

The two got into it with 3:10 left in the second quarter as their jockeying for position underneath turned to a fistfight, after Camson apparently elbowed Almazan. The two were quickly separated to prevent any untoward incident.

“‘Di ko naman intensyon. Makikita naman sa replay na ang intensyon ko, hindi ko naman talaga habol yung mukha. Box lang ako,” the fifth-year pro explained. “Tinamaan ko, hindi ko naman maiiwasan, tapos ginantihan ako.

“Siyempre sa akin pride ko na yon kaya siguro umabot sa ganon.”

Both of them were slapped with a flagrant foul penalty two and were ejected from the match, which went in favor of Kia, 98-94. But tensions spilled outside the court as the two got into a verbal exchange in the dugout.

Luckily, the gates separating the teams’ locker rooms were closed and prevented another scuffle from taking place, as Almazan claimed that Camson owed him something.

But then again, Camson reiterated that he hadn’t wanted an incident to take place, saying that he was just too caught up in emotions — ones brought upon by their eagerness to win after a 16-game losing skid.

“Hindi ko rin naman ginusto yung nangyari na yon.

“Sobrang eager lang siguro ako, pagod na kasi kaming matalo eh,” said the six-foot-four stretch big man, who already had 10 points, five rebounds, and four assists prior to being ousted. “Ayaw namin na pumasok rally nila na eto na naman kami, kasi aminado naman kaming lahat na once na nag-rally na sila, nalalayuan na kami, yung morale namin bumababa na talaga.”

According to PBA officer-in-charge Willie Marcial, Camson and Almazan will be summoned at the Commissioner’s Office on Tuesday. And for Camson, he is ready to face the consequ

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