The Governor’s Cup defending champions Purefoods Star Hotshots gets their first victory as they squeak past NLEX Road Warriors, 89-85 to open up their title defense held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Kwame Alexander made a fiery start to the ballgame with his first triple jump put up a 10-4 lead in favor of the Road Warriors. The Star Hotshots had a rough time getting successive baskets to fall as the defense of NLEX troubled them in the early minutes of the game. However, Marquis Blakely began to make noise in the paint to answer Alexander’s presence down low. Blakely anchored a 13-3 finish in the first for Purefoods, scoring seven points during the stretch while also playing superb defense on the other end.
With the majority of the team’s second unit fielded in to start the second period, Allain Maliksi and Alex Mallari provided the spark off the bench to give their squad a bigger lead. The two bench players, together with a ferocious Blakely jam gave Purefoods a 26-19 lift with less than nine minutes to go in the first half. Michael Mandanly started to score for NLEX from the perimeter to chip into the deficit but was quickly responded by an 8-3 answer by Purefoods to make it a double-digit game.
Stellar defense on both ends of the floor neither gave themselves any opportunity to find their offensive groove. Blakely stood to be a stellar rim protector while the Road Warriors’ guards played the passing lanes. While Blakely dominated the paint, his squad maintained the lead until the final two minutes the second period. Mark Cardona made two floaters to trigger NLEX’s run late in the first half as it was a part of a 10-2 run to tie the game at 41 heading into the half.
Jonas Villanueva made two layups in the third quarter to give back NLEX the advantage. The game became a closely-contested affair but Niño Canaleta drained in a triple to make it a 50-45 game in favor of his squad. The five-point lead was the largest for both teams in the third period as the defensive-themed game ensued by the squads. Mark Barroca drained in a basket to complete an 8-1 run and give back the lead to Purefoods but they would trail by two at the end of three quarters.
In the fourth, James Yap’s jumper triggered Purefoods’ run to pull themselves up again. While the starters make their way back to the game, Pingris converted on a hook to give them a 72-64 advantage. While NLEX made huge stops to stop the lead from getting bigger, they also made their free throws to make it a four point lead with less than two minutes to play. After an exchange of successive misses from the floor, Joe Devance knocked down the dagger triple to make it a seven point game at 78-71. Mallari, Barroca, and Barroca would knock down all the needed free throws down the stretch to seal the deal for Purefoods’ first win.
NLEX shot 12 out of 31 from three-point territory for a 39% clip compared to Purefoods’ 3 out of 14 shooting(21%). Purefoods, however, scored more from the paint, 46-32 and had more blocks 8-4.
Blakely finished with 29 points, 18 rebounds, seven steals and five rejections. Mallari added 15 on an efficient shooting on only seven attempts. Alexander tallied 25 markers and was a monster on the boards with 26.
Purefoods(89) – Blakely 29, Mallari 15, Barroca 9, Pingris 8, Yap 7, Devance 7, Malliksi 7, Simon 4, Reavis 3, Pennisi 0
NLEX(85) – Alexander 25, Villanueva 14, Cardona 9, Borboran 8, Madanly 8, Canaleta 6, Taulava 6, Villanueva 4, Ramos 2, Raymundo 2, Apinan 0
Quarters: 17-13, 41-41, 56-56, 89-86
Composed Ceres-Negros expels Shan United in shootout victory
The Negrenses punched their ticket to Brisbane, Australia after emerging the better spotkick takers. Four Busmen were on target, while two of their Shan Warriors counterparts fluffed their lines.
The two domestic champions were inseparable after 120 minutes, with the hosts holding their own against the Philippine champions. Ceres-Negros looked the more dominant of the two teams. However, they couldn’t make the advantage count where it mattered, as they failed to breach the sturdy Shan United defense inside the first two regulation halves.
The visitors were visibly more comfortable in the first half, but with the scores staying level at the break, the less-fancied Myanmar champions eventually found their footing in the encounter. While there were several half-chances from either side to open the scoring, both defenses remained defiant en route to unwanted extra time.
“It was a tough game. We weren’t ready to play 120 minutes because we only had four training sessions before the game but everytime we wear this jersey, we represent Ceres, we represent Bacolod, we represent the Philippines, so we have to give our best,” Ceres’ defender Carli de Murga elaborated to the Inquirer after the match. The Asian Football season has yet to start, and with both teams not too busy with pre-season preparations, rust and fatigue in a demanding affair were evident.
Nonetheless, the hosts refused to go down without a fight, and their resilience was rewarded later in the opening half. Substitute Patrick Asare found the back of the net to restore parity in Yangon.
Another 15 minutes of goalless action took place in the second half as both teams looked more cautious, perhaps with the collective aim of avoiding a costly error or two. Among all the chances, Schröck’s in the 114th minute may have proved to be the closest to changing the scores, as his attempt shaved the post.
Shan United took to the spot first, where Asare made his penalty attempt count. Nay Lin Tun also made his, but not before teammate Chizoba smashed his attempt over Toni Doblas’ goal.
While the hosts squandered a shot, the visitors remained calm in front of a hostile Myanmar crowd. De Murga, Schröck and Mike Ott nailed their turns, with Marañon also not missing a vital kick from 12 yards.
It set up William Biassi Nyakwe, the man credited with the own goal when he deflected Schröck’s opener, with the chance to prolong his team’s campaign in the AFC Champions League. Unfortunately for him, he couldn’t atone for his earlier mistake, as his attempt soared high and wide — much to the delight of the visiting team from Bacolod, the Philippines.
The reward for Ceres-Negros is a trip to Queensland, Australia, where they will seek to do one better than compatriots Global-Cebu. The 2016 Philippine champions also played against the Brisbane Roar, who dealt them a staggering 6-0 hammering this time last year. The match will be held at the Suncorp Stadium on January 23.
Abu Tratter plans to work his way to 2023 by continuing to do ‘the dirty work’
Abu Tratter may have missed the jersey-giving ceremony that the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas held for the 23 for 2023 cadets last Monday but he made sure to help out when the current batch needed him the most.
After helping the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers win the Sinulog Cup in Cebu a week ago, the 6-foot-7 Filipino-American did not hesitate to heed Gilas’ call, as they were undermanned for their second session in preparation for the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
“Actually, at first I was just shocked to see June Mar and Gabe, just to be able to be in the midst of them,” gushed the former DLSU Green Archer, who will suit-up for Marinerong Pilipino in the D-League. “I even asked them for a picture, and hopefully they’ll still give me one.
“It’s just humbling, definitely.”
However, the work has only began for Tratter. With five years to go until the 2023 FIBA World Cup, the two-time UAAP champion plans to continue to do what he does best — be the same scrapper that he is and hopefully catch the eye of Gilas’ brass.
“That’s how it is, garbage into gold. Get anything, sweep up anything and try to put it back.”
Moreover, he will continue answering the call when Gilas needs him, as he himself is learning a lot from being surrounded by the country’s topflight cagers.
Terrence Romeo invited to join Pilipinas 3×3 for World Cup
Stronger than ever
Romeo, who is currently out due to a right knee injury, has been in rehabilitation and is expected to miss the entire Philippine Cup campaign of the Globalport Batang Pier and the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
Romeo has plenty of 3×3 basketball experience under his belt.
The 2018 3X3 World Cup will take place from June 8-12 at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
Red Spikers extinguish Blazers for second win
The Red Spikers (2-1) will face the Mapua University, also at 2-1, on Friday, January 19.
Orian was such a presence at the net, ending up with 20 points for the Taft-based squad.