Second-half outburst lifts San Miguel over downtrodden Alaska

‘He’s the best 2-way basketball player in the NBA’ – Lowry on Leonard ahead of game 6

San Miguel turned on the jets in the second half to blow out Alaska, 114-96, in the PBA Philippine Cup on Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.

The win gives the Beermen a 7-4 win-loss card to end the eliminations, with either TNT or Ginebra being their opponent in the first round of the playoffs.

Alaska actually led by as much as 10 early in the second quarter, 33-23, but they were unable to sustain this down the line as SMB kept in step behind Alex Cabagnot, who scored 20 of his 31 points in the first half.

Cabagnot continued leading SMB in the second half as a tough finish in the middle to give them a 72-69 lead in the third quarter ignited a 9-2 run that gave his side an eight-point lead entering the final frame.

San Miguel continued the onslaught in the fourth quarter and erected a lead as huge as 21, 100-79, thanks to a June Mar Fajardo jumper with 5:34 left in the game.

“We all know we’re already in the quarterfinals, but this game is really important for us. I’m so happy with the players because nakita niyo sense of urgency. We don’t want to get to the quarterfinals on a losing note,” head coach Leo Austria said.

Alex Cabagnot (Photo from the PBA Media Group)

Five other players scored in double figures for the Beermen, who missed the services of Terrence Romeo earlier.

Christian Standhardinger came up with 23 points and seven rebounds off the bench in his return from a five-game absence, while Arwind Santos knocked down five threes on his way to finishing with 17 points and nine rebounds.

Von Pessumal and Fajardo added 14 and 13, respectively, while Chris Ross was a stablizing force in the backcourt after talliying 10 points, 14 assists and four steals.

Alaska got 22 points, five assists and four rebounds from Chris Banchero as they slipped to 4-6 in the standings.

THE SCORES

SAN MIGUEL (114) – Cabagnot 31, Standhardinger 23, Santos 17, Pessumal 14, Fajardo 13, Ross 10, Lassiter 4, Rosser 2, Zamar 0, Mamaril 0, Tubid 0, Vigil 0, Nabong 0.

ALASKA (96) – Banchero 22, Cruz 13, Thoss 12, Baclao 12, Teng 11, Potts 6, Pascual 6, Casio 4, Enciso 2, Exciminiano 2, Galliguez 2, Racal 2, Ayaay 2, Babilonia 0.

Quarters: 21-27, 45-50, 79-71, 114-96.

RELATED – PBA: Playoff-bound TNT looks to correct defensive slippage as SMB matchup looms large

RELATED – PBA: NorthPort arrests six-game losing skid by blasting lackluster TNT

RELATED – PBA: Ginebra weathers NLEX three-point barrage in Pampanga, keeps twice-to-beat hopes alive

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Playoff-bound TNT looks to correct defensive slippage as SMB matchup looms large

‘He’s the best 2-way basketball player in the NBA’ – Lowry on Leonard ahead of game 6

TNT has boasted one of the league’s best defenses for most of the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup, but the last two games are an indication that they still need to smoothen some creases on that end.

Their latest loss on Sunday NorthPort might have even highlighted these problems for the playoff-bound KaTropa.

Tipped against a Batang Pier side that needed a crucial win to keep its faltering quarterfinals hopes alive, TNT looked lethargic and allowed their foes to catch fire.

RELATED – PBA: NorthPort arrests six-game losing skid by blasting lackluster TNT

The results were unflattering: NorthPort shot 52 percent from the field—the most that they’ve allowed from anybody this conference—and made nearly half of their threes (14-for-30), with eight of those coming in a blistering first half that appeared to put the game out of reach immediately.

“Ganun talaga sa basketball. Maganda yung preparations nila sa amin, yung game plan nila. Lahat ng tinira nila, pumapasok,” Jayson Castro observed.

“Dun na nga, nakikita lang siguro depensa namin. We’re improving, pero kailangan consistent kami. Kailangan ‘di pwedeng mag-let down or mag-relax, especially sa depensa. ‘Yun nga sabi ni coach Mark (Dickel), kailangan seryosohin pa namin ang depensa namin,” said head coach Bong Ravena.

Bong Ravena, Jayson Castro (Photos from the PBA Media Group)

TNT finished its elimination round with a 7-4 win-loss record, meaning that they’ve lost their one shot at clinching a twice-to-beat advantage to Rain or Shine, who locked up the second seed with an 8-3 record while holding the tiebreaker over Ginebra.

“Sayang talaga. Pero wala kang magagawa kung ganun ang klase ng laro namin. ‘Di ka talaga mananalo kapag mga ganun. Maybe we’re tired because back-to-back games kami eh. Siguro isang factor din,” head coach Bong Ravena said after the loss.

But with the team looking like they’ll be set for an early collision course against reigning four-time All-Filipino champs San Miguel, don’t expect TNT to dwell on this loss.

“‘Yun naman yung kagandahan ng game. Laging may preparations. So tingnan lang naming yung game namin vs. NorthPort Kung ano yung mga maling nagawa namin, kailangan naming i-correct,” Castro said.

“Move on lang. We have to be ready versus San Miguel. Hopefully. Alam mo naman San Miguel kailangan paghandaan mo. It’s not easy. Ganun talaga,” Ravena added.

RELATED – PBA: Close shave vs. Columbian a ‘wake-up call’ for Jayson Castro, TNT

RELATED – PBA: Ginebra weathers NLEX three-point barrage in Pampanga, keeps twice-to-beat hopes alive

RELATED – PBA: TNT survives fourth quarter scare from Columbian for fifth straight win

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NorthPort arrests six-game losing skid by blasting lackluster TNT

‘He’s the best 2-way basketball player in the NBA’ – Lowry on Leonard ahead of game 6

NorthPort ended two months of futility in spectacular fashion by annihilating TNT, 109-83, in their PBA Philippine Cup encounter on Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.

Four starters, led by Stanley Pringle’s 27 points and nine rebounds, completed the job as the Batang Pier snatched their first win since a 95-90 win over NLEX last January 20.

NorthPort never trailed after getting off to a 22-16 first quarter start and used a 31-point second period—kicked off by four straight triples and puncutated by an easy two from Mo Tautuaa to give them a 27-point lead—to completely separate themselves from the KaTropa.

TNT tried to get a small run going in the second half as a 13-2 start put them within 11, 44-55, but a sharper NorthPort offense proved to be too much of a hump to overcome the rest of the way.

“Actually yung talo naman namin last five or six games puro breaks of the game,” head coach Pido Jarencio said. “Ngayon naman parang perfect game first half hanggang second half.”

“Manalo kaming tatlo o dalawa baka mag playoffs. Basta one game at atime. Habulin namin playoffs. Well-rested mga players ngayon kaya maganda yung rotation. We were making or shots. ‘Yung mga libre pumapasok,” he added.

The loss gave TNT a 7-4 card to end the elimination. This meant that Rain or Shine has locked up the second seed by virtue of having an 8-3 record in the standings and by owning the tiebreaker over Ginebra (6-3).

Stanley Pringle (Photo from the PBA Media Group)

NorthPort shot a blistering 46 percent from beyond the arc (14-for-30), with nine of those coming in a scorching first half show. They also finished with a 52 percent shooting clip.

Sean Anthony pitched in 14 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals off the bench, while Tautuaa and Paolo Taha added 13 apiece. Robert Bolick also flirted with a triple-double (eight points, 12 rebounds, seven assists) in the start.

TNT, meanwhile, was paced by Don Trollano’s 15 points and seven boards. The team struggled mightily from the line as they made only six of 21 attempts from the stripe.

THE SCORES

NORTHPORT (109)
– Pringle 27, Anthony 14, Tautuaa 13, Taha 13, Flores 11, Grey 9, Bolick 8, Elorde 8, Lanete 6, Guinto 0, Sollano 0.

TNT (83) – Trollano 15, Washington 13, Pogoy 10, Cruz 7, Reyes 7, Castro 7, Rosario 6, Miranda 6, Taha 5, Williams 4, Golla 2, Semerad 1, Heruela 0, Carey 0, Casino 0.

Quarters: 22-16, 53-31, 82-61, 109-83.

RELATED – PBA: Ginebra weathers NLEX three-point barrage in Pampanga, keeps twice-to-beat hopes alive

RELATED – PBA: Defensive-minded Rome dela Rosa delivers offensively as fatigue sets in for Magnolia

RELATED – PBA: Waiting game begins for Columbian after close loss puts playoff fate in limbo

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Ginebra weathers NLEX three-point barrage in Pampanga, keeps twice-to-beat hopes alive

‘He’s the best 2-way basketball player in the NBA’ – Lowry on Leonard ahead of game 6

Ginebra overcame NLEX’s red-hot shooting from downtown in the first half to run away with a 105-96 win in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Angeles University Foundation Sports Arena in Pampanga.

Five players scored in double figures for the Gin Kings, who had to labor back from an 18-point second quarter defict to collect their third straight victory while keeping their bid for a twice-to-beat berth in play.

NLEX took advantage of Ginebra’ slow rotations in the first half to bury 12 first half threes, with a trey from JP Erram giving them a 42-24 advantage at the 8:24 mark.

After that, Ginebra buckled down to work and slowly crept back.

Japeth Aguilar (Photo from the PBA Media Group)

A 22-9 run to cap off the first half seemed to do the trick, cutting the Road Warriors’ lead to just 51-46 at the break. Later in the third, Scottie Thompson capped off an 11-2 burst to finally put Ginebra on top, 57-56.

Ginebra continued to go on the offensive in the payoff period, rallying behind Aguilar, Thompson and their stifling defnese to bring them home.

With NLEX’s guns staying silent after a torrid start, the Gin Kings were able to pull away as an Aguilar reverse finish with 1:13 left in the game served as the finishing touches.

Aguilar led all scorers with 27 points and nine rebounds, while LA Tenorio added 17 markers. Thompson, Greg Slaughter and Kevin Ferrer also pitched in 14 each.

Thompson narrowly missed a triple-double after tallying eight rebounds and eight assists for Ginebra, who will have to sweep both Meralco and NorthPort in their final two games to have a clearer shot at the No. 2 spot.

NLEX, on the other hand, saw Erram’s 16 points, eight boards, three blocks and two steals go down the drain as they slid to 4-6 in the standings.

The Road Warriors got off to great start behind JR Quinahan, who drained four of the team’s eight first quarter threes — including three straight to open the game with a 9-2 lead — en route to a 30-19 cushion after 12 minutes.

Although its offense ran out of steam and leveled off in the second half, NLEX still shot a blistering 18-of-46 (39 percent) from long range, with 10 of 12 players fielded sinking at least one in the game.

THE SCORES

GINEBRA (105) – Aguilar 27, Tenorio 17, Slaughter 14, Thompson 14, Ferrer 14, Chan 7, dela Cruz 7, Mariano 4, Mercado 1, Cruz 0, Caperal 0.

NLEX (96) – Erram 16, Quinahan 15, Tiongson 12, Galanza 12, Ighalo 8, Tallo 8, Paniamogan 8, Magat 6, Lao 5, Taulava 3, Soyud 6, Baguio 0.

RELATED – PBA: Defensive-minded Rome dela Rosa delivers offensively as fatigue sets in for Magnolia

RELATED – PBA: Magnolia downs eliminated Blackwater to grab solo sixth

RELATED – PBA: Waiting game begins for Columbian after close loss puts playoff fate in limbo

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Defensive-minded Rome dela Rosa delivers offensively as fatigue sets in for Magnolia

‘He’s the best 2-way basketball player in the NBA’ – Lowry on Leonard ahead of game 6

ANTIPOLO — Magnolia needed every ounce of production it can get from anybody in what was a grueling schedule for them this week.

On Friday, they got exactly just that from Rome dela Rosa.

The defensive stalwart provided a timely shot in the arm for an admittedly gassed Hotshots side, scoring 17 points on an efficient 8-for-10 clip in the team’s 97-87 win over lowly Blackwater at the Ynares Center in Rizal.

Dela Rosa poured nine of those in a pivotal second quarter swing that helped Magnolia separate themselves from the Elite with a 49-41 lead at the half.

“It was a must-win, I just had to be aggressive. Offensively I had to be aggressive against those guys and make whoever’s defending me work. It was a must-win for us, with the positioning for the playoffs,” dela Rosa shared.

He wasn’t alone in the winning cause, though.

Dela Rosa was flanked by four other players who scored in double digits as Ian Sangalang (16 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, one block), Paul Lee (16 points, nine rebounds and four assists), Rafi Reavis (11 points, nine boards) and Mark Barroca (11 points, five assists, two rebounds, two steals and a block) all conspired to push Magnolia to above .500 for the first time this conference.

“I’m happy that everyone’s contributing. I know everyone’s capable naman eh. As long as you’re given the time whether its on offense or on defense they’re able to contribute to the team,” he said.

“Just happy for everyone. The coaches are doing well, making sure everyone is in the right spots.”

Rome dela Rosa (Photo from the PBA Media Group)

The win capped off a tough week that saw them win two of their three games in five days.

“That was tough. We’re just fighting it off. No excuses. That’s the schedule given to us after last season so we just have to work and give our maximum effort,” dela Rosa shared.

Magnolia will be getting a much-deserved break, with their next and final game of the eliminations set two weeks from now.

But even with a lengthy layoff on their hands, dela Rosa noted that the team will stil want to stay sharp against NLEX, who are also in the thick of the playoff race in the standings.

“It’s a well-needed rest, first of all, after this month,” said dela Rosa. Right now we’ll just take the rest but mentally we have to prepare for NLEX so we have to be on our minds. We wanna come out and win that game.”

RELATED – PBA: Magnolia downs eliminated Blackwater to grab solo sixth

RELATED – PBA: Waiting game begins for Columbian after close loss puts playoff fate in limbo

RELATED – PBA: Close shave vs. Columbian a ‘wake-up call’ for Jayson Castro, TNT

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Magnolia downs eliminated Blackwater to grab solo sixth

‘He’s the best 2-way basketball player in the NBA’ – Lowry on Leonard ahead of game 6

ANTIPOLO — Magnolia used a strong fourth quarter finish to roll past Blackwater, 97-87, in the PBA Philippine Cup on Friday at the Ynares Center in Rizal.

Rome dela Rosa led all scorers with 17 points on an 8-for-10 shooting clip, while Ian Sangalang and Paul Lee pitched in 16 apiece. Sangalang also had 10 rebounds for the Hotshots, who moved to .500 for the first time this conference.

Magnolia wasn’t able to coast quickly in the second half due to a third quarter challenge by the Elite, who held their last lead after a Mac Belo jumper gave them a slim 61-60 advantage with 2:26 left.

After that, though, it was all Magnolia until the final buzzer.

Paul Lee (Photo from the PBA Media Group)

An 8-0 run to end the third gave the Hothsots a 68-61 lead entering the final frame. Magnolia stayed on the aggressive in the fourth, with two consecutive triples Paul Lee and Justin Melton to open the fourth giving them a 74-65 advantage.

Later, an 11-3 run, puncutated by a reverse finish by Sangalang underneath the rim, extended the Hotshots’ lead to 84-72, effectively putting the game out of Blackwater’s reach.

Belo and Allein Maliksi scored 16 each for Blackwater, which finished its lackluster All-Filipino campaign with a 2-9 win-loss card.

Magnolia, meanwhile, improved to 5-5, now half a game ahead of NLEX — who are incidentally their last elimination round opponent in a tight battle for better playoff positioning — and Alaska in the standings.

THE SCORES

MAGNOLIA (97) – Dela Rosa 17, Lee 16, Sangalang 16, Reavis 11, Barroca 11, Brondial 10, Melton 9, Jalalon 4, Ramos 3, Simon 0, Gamalinda 0, Abundo 0, Pascual 0.

BLACKWATER (87) – Belo 16, Maliksi 16, Dario 11, Eriobu 10, Al-Hussaini 9, Tratter 8, Banal 7, DiGregorio 4, Sena 3, Desiderio 3, Javier 0, Sumang 0.

Quarters: 20-20, 49-41, 68-61, 97-87.

RELATED – PBA: Waiting game begins for Columbian after close loss puts playoff fate in limbo

RELATED – PBA: Close shave vs. Columbian a ‘wake-up call’ for Jayson Castro, TNT

RELATED – PBA: TNT survives fourth quarter scare from Columbian for fifth straight win

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Waiting game begins for Columbian after close loss puts playoff fate in limbo

‘He’s the best 2-way basketball player in the NBA’ – Lowry on Leonard ahead of game 6

ANTIPOLO — Columbian’s road to the playoffs just got tougher and a bit more complicated.

Whether or not the Dyip will make the quarterfinals now rests on how other teams fare down the stretch in the PBA Philippine Cup after a narrow loss to TNT on Friday dampened their chances.

It would have been a different story had Columbian, who stormed back from 18 down to threaten TNT in the final moments, sustained two comeback runs.

They first cut a double-digit second quarter gap to just one in the early goings of the third quarter, where a strong 10-0 start made it just a 46-47 deficit.

After falling behind big again, Columbian found their bearings and their shooting touch to make it a close ball game in the payoff period.

RELATED – PBA: Close shave vs. Columbian a ‘wake-up call’ for Jayson Castro, TNT

“Nalayuan e. Masyadong malayo yung hinabol namin. Pangalawa yung missed free throws namin. Pangatlo, too late to realize na kaya namin manalo. Just last seven minutes, 18 points, nahabol namin, narealize na kaya pala. Sayang,” head coach John Cardel lamented.

“Once we started to be a little more patient on offense, we started to get some stops and then we started making shots. I’m still proud of my guys, they still fought until the end of the game,” Rashawn McCarthy said.

CJ Perez (Photo from the PBA Media Group)

For the team, being able to recover late in the game was a good sign that they could hang with the best of them.

“Kinapos nga kami sa huli pero magandang experience ‘yun sa team namin kasi alam pala namin na may ibubuga pa kami. Kahit natatambakan kami, di sumuko mga kasama ko, ‘yung mga coaches,” CJ Perez mused.

Unfortunately, that small moral victory may be the last win that they’ll be getting here in the conference.

Columbian is currently stuck at ninth place in the standings with a 4-7 card, behind NLEX, Alaska and Magnolia—all of whom have identical 4-5 records as of writing.

With no games left on their schedule, all that they can do now is wait.

“‘Yun nga. Antayin namin kung makaka-playoffs pa kami. It’s a blessing kung makakapaglaro pa kami,” Perez said.

“We’ll see, kung destiny talaga namin pumasok, makakapag-knockout kami. Butas ng kayarom dadaanan namin,” Cardel added.

 

RELATED – PBA: TNT survives fourth quarter scare from Columbian for fifth straight win

RELATED – PBA: Playoffs still in play as fourth-quarter rally pushes Magnolia past NorthPort

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Close shave vs. Columbian a ‘wake-up call’ for Jayson Castro, TNT

‘He’s the best 2-way basketball player in the NBA’ – Lowry on Leonard ahead of game 6

ANTIPOLO — A near-meltdown at the hands of Columbian, not a current five-game winning streak in the PBA Philippine Cup, left a huge impression on Jayson Castro and the rest of TNT.

The KaTropa bagged their seventh win in 10 games on Friday at the Ynares Center in Rizal, but it wasn’t without a hitch as a late Dyip fightback in the final frame nearly put a dent on their hopes of gaining a twice-to-beat berth.

RELATED – PBA: TNT survives fourth quarter scare from Columbian for fifth straight win

“‘Yung team namin we’re playing well naman, except dito sa game though nanalo kami, medyo nag-struggle kami sa defense namin. Isang wake-up call samin yun na mag-improve pa,” Castro said after the game.

Luckily for the team, their defense remained as stout as it was in the last four games.

The KaTropa were able to force top gun Rashawn McCarthy to a paltry 4-for-19 clip from the field, with two of those misses coming in the final seconds as the Dyip attempted to extend the action for five more minutes.

Columbian also had 27 turnovers as McCarthy accounted for nine.

Jayson Castro (Photo from the PBA Media Group)

“‘Yun yung pinaka-calling card namin ngayon, yung defense. Even sa practice, yun yung number one focus namin,” Castro added.

“Kung makikita niyo every game naman iba-iba yung umi-score. Pero sa defense, talaga nandoon kami lahat. Siguro yun yung key, yung chemistry namin. At lahat willing mag-sacrifice para dumepensa talaga,” he continued. “Lahat naman samin willing mag-sacrifice para sa ikaka-ganda ng team. Yun ang number one commitment namin para sa team.”

The win means TNT will still have a shot at placing in the top two, but they’ll have to take care of business first in their last game against NorthPort and have other pieces fall in their favor.

But regardless of where they’ll end up after the elimination round, making the playoffs will be a welcome change for a team that narrowly missed the quarterfinals with a ninth-place finish in the 2018 Governors’ Cup.

“Malaking bagay kasi alam namin na may chance pa kami sa top two, at the same time yung winning streak namin gusto namin ma-continue. Kasi last conference di kami nakarating dito eh. So malaking oppportunity para sa’min,” Castro said.

RELATED – PBA: Playoffs still in play as fourth-quarter rally pushes Magnolia past NorthPort

RELATED – PBA: Alaska stays in playoff hunt by dumping sliding Meralco

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TNT survives fourth quarter scare from Columbian for fifth straight win

‘He’s the best 2-way basketball player in the NBA’ – Lowry on Leonard ahead of game 6

ANTIPOLO — TNT avoided a collapse in the final two minutes against a pesky Columbian side to eke out a 101-98 win in the PBA Philippine Cup on Friday at the Ynares Center in Rizal.

Jayson Castro led the KaTropa with 20 points and seven assists, but they had to wait for two of Rashawn McCarthy’s game-tying attempts to hit iron in the final seconds to come away with their fifth straight victory.

TNT allowed the Dyip to climb from a 93-101 deficit with 2:50 left behind JP Calvo and McCarthy, whose triple with 48 ticks remaining in the game put them within three and well within striking distance.

A missed trey from a wide open Castro later kept the door open for Columbian, but they were unable to force overtime as McCarthy’s two misses, including a heave just a few steps from halfcourt that hit front rim, sealed the KaTropa’s seventh win.

Jayson Castro (Photo from the PBA Media Group)

Ryan Reyes and Troy Rosario added 19 points each for the KaTropa, who knocked down 14-of-43 attemtps from downtown (32 percent). The two combined for eight of those threes.

Roger Pogoy pitched in 14 points but struggled from the field (3-for-16), ending a three-game run that saw him lead the team in scoring. Kelly Williams, meanwhile, fielded another all-around line of 12 points, nine rebounds and six assists.

“In this particular game may mga lapses. Knowing the game, may mga situation, may mga lapses ika nga. But thank God yung depensa controlled pa rin. We made stops. Yun naman ang importante eh. We emphasized… particularly sa defense namin. We have to be consistent,” head coach Bong Ravena said after the game.

With no games left on their schedule, Columbian’s (4-7) playoff fate will be determined by how other teams will finish in the standings. CJ Perez paced the team with 22 points, nine rebounds and five assists.

The Dyip were able to win the battle on the boards, 61-53.

The KaTropa were able to build themselves a comfortable double-digit spread in the second canto after a Castro lay-in capped off a 15-2 burst that turned a 23-22 lead into a 37-24 advantage midway through the quarter.

But Columbian gave their foes some fits after TNT saw its lead evaporate to just one, 47-46, behind a 10-0 start by the Dyip in the third period.

TNT later tightened things up and regained control as an easy finish by Harvey Carey from a Yousef Taha dime restoring order by giving them a 71-53 lead in the before allowing the Dyip to come back again in the final frame.

TNT has one game left on its schedule, with a clash against NorthPort happening on Sunday, March 24, at the Araneta Coliseum. A win would help bolster their case for a twice-to-beat advantage.

 

THE SCORES

TNT (101) – Castro 20, Reyes 19, Rosario 19, Pogoy 14, Williams 12, Heruela 8, Taha 4, Carey 2, Semerad 2, Washington 1, Cruz 0, Trollano 0, Miranda 0.

COLUMBIAN (98)
– Perez 22, McCarthy 17, Camson 14, Corpuz 13, Calvo 13, Khobuntin 11, Faundo 4, Reyes 3, Celda 2, Cabrera 0, Escoto 0, Cahilig 0.

Quarters: 20-19, 47-37, 80-67, 101-98.

RELATED – PBA: Playoffs still in play as fourth-quarter rally pushes Magnolia past NorthPort

RELATED – PBA: Alaska stays in playoff hunt by dumping sliding Meralco

RELATED – PBA: Scottie Thompson anchors Ginebra over Jalalon, Magnolia in Manila Clasico OT

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Chot Reyes likes Gilas Pilipinas’ chances vs. Angola, Italy, but says intensive build-up crucial

‘He’s the best 2-way basketball player in the NBA’ – Lowry on Leonard ahead of game 6

Chot Reyes is ‘very optimistic’ about Gilas Pilipinas’ chances of stealing a game or two against its Group D foes in the FIBA World Cup come August.

Reyes, who coached the national team back in 2014 to its first win on the world stage in 40 years, sees the stars aligning for the Philippines, which is grouped with European powers Serbia and Italy and African contenders Angola.

RELATED – Standing in Gilas Pilipinas’ way: With or without NBA stars, Serbia still Group D favorites

The optimism mostly stems from the fact that that there’s only one team in the group — world No. 4 Serbia — seeded within the top 10 of the FIBA rankings this time around.

“Although they’re a very strong team, I think Angola is beatable the way we were able to defeat Senegal before. Italy will be tough, but I don’t think they’re as strong as Argentina or Greece. I think may chance tayo diyan,” he explained.

The Serbians are expected to give Gilas an incredibly difficult time right from the opening tip, but Reyes thinks an upset might still be within the realm of possibility given that the 2014 Philippine quintet took another Euro powerhouse in Croatia to overtime before losing.

“Serbia admittedly will be very very tough. If Italy is tough, Serbia is very very tough. Parang Croatia naman yan dati sa atin. But then ‘yung Croatia we took them to overtime. ‘Di mo talaga masasabi eh,” Reyes added.

However, Reyes said that it would all boil down to the level of preparation that coach Yeng Guiao and the rest of the team will be afforded four months before the World Cup proper.

Chot Reyes (photo from Eros Villanueva)

In 2014, Gilas was able to play in a pocket tournament in Europe during their own build-up. While they lost a slew of games to France, Ukraine, Australia, Venezuela and Dominican Rebublic, the team was able to familiarize themselves with how their non-Asian counterparts carried themselves on the floor.

Reyes hopes that Guiao gets to have that same opportunity for his boys.

“Kasi nung nag-pocket tournament kami, when we played France, dinikitan kami until the last quater pero the next day binugbog kami ng Ukraine, and then binugbog kami ng Australia. Pero it was fine because na-feel namin na binugbog kami. But when we got to down to Madrid and Gudalajara, sinabayan naman namin ‘yung [Argentina], [Puerto Rico], all those strong teams,” Reyes explained.

“Talo pa rin, pero at least sumasabay, nafe-feel ng players gumagaling sila, lumalakas sila, nakakasabay,” he continued. “And I think that feeling spilled over sa actual World Cup. So nung pagdating nung actual laban, the players had a very good feeling about themselves.”

“It’s very important for this team to get that same feeling going into the competition. They should have a good feeling about gemselves that they can compete with anybody, with those teams we’re playing against.”

RELATED – Standing in Gilas Pilipinas’ way: Angola won’t be a walk in the park

A few things that could help make Gilas’ road a tad easier will be the new format that FIBA introduced in the showpiece. After all, lighter schedules and less opponents mean more rest and a better shot at advancing to the next round.

“Ang ganda ng schedule natin ngayon eh. Laro, pahinga. Laro, pahinga, laro, pahinga. Unlike before, every day may laro so mabubugbog talaga tayo. So that’s another positive for Gilas,” Reyes noted.

“‘Yun pa, we’re benefiting from better format now. Parang two wins lang to get through the next round. That’s why I think there’s a big possibility that we get those two wins. Like I said, I’m very optimistic.”

Overall, Reyes gives Guiao’s Gilas a better chance at going further in the tournament with a lot of factors working for them.

“We have proven before that we can compete and that there’s no reason with this team now, with the players that we have, with coach Yeng’s system, with Andray Blatche in shape, there’s no reason for us to improve on that previous one win in 2014. I think if we get to two wins, that might be enough to get us into the next round,” Reyes said.

The Philippines will start its World Cup campaign against Italy on August 31 in Foshan, China.

RELATED – Standing in Gilas Pilipinas’ Way: Could Gallinari, Belinelli offset Italy’s thin frontline?

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Playoffs still in play as fourth-quarter rally pushes Magnolia past NorthPort

‘He’s the best 2-way basketball player in the NBA’ – Lowry on Leonard ahead of game 6

Magnolia completed a furious second-half turnaround with a decisive fourth quarter finish against NorthPort, 103-90, in the PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday at the Araneta Colisuem.

Trailing by as much as 10 for most of the third frame, the Hotshots shut down the Batang Pier offense and outscored them by 27-8 in the payoff period to stay in the running for one of the lower quarterfinal seats.

A triple by Paul Lee kicked-start a quick 8-0 run that turned a six-point deficit entering the final frame into an 85-82 lead for the Hotshots. Magnolia stayed aggressive on both ends of the floor the rest of the way and were able to separate themselves comforatably from NorthPort with about 3:15 left in the game after an Ian Sangalang finish at the rim gave them a 97-90 advantage.

Justin Melton later put the nail in the coffin by drilling a booming trey that pushed the lead to 10.

“It’s all about our defense in the second half. Sa locker room, I told them if we don’t play D in the second, we will lose this game,” head coach Chito Victolero said.

“I’m very happy. Na-limit naming sila sa 31 pts sa 2nd half. Na-limit din naming si Stanley (Pringle, Mo (Tautaa) tsaka si (Jonathan) Grey sa second half.”

Lee finished with 24 points and knocked down six shots from beyond the arc in the win. He also recorded four rebounds and three assists as Magnolia improved to 4-5 in the standings.

Paul Lee (Photo from the PBA Media Group)

Sangalang turned in another impressive line after putting up 20 points, four rebounds and a block, while Rodney Brondial added 14 off the bench.

Sean Anthony was impressive once more for the Batang Pier after tallying 22 points and eight rebounds, although he did have six turnovers for the night. Mo Tautuaa, on the other hand, saw a monster double-double (19 points, 16 rebounds) go down the drain as NorthPort slipped to their sixth straight loss.

NorthPort’s eight-point output during that fourth-period drought was their worst scoring output in any quarter in franchise history.

That came after a 59-point first half performance, which gave them a six-point lead over Magnolia after two quarters of play.

Magnolia has one more shot at boosting their playoff hopes when they take on Blackwater on Friday, March 22, at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.

THE SCORES

MAGNOLIA (103) – Lee 24, Sangalang 20, Brondial 14, Melton 11, Jalalon 11, Barroca 11, Reavis 5, dela Rosa 5, Herndon 2, Pascual 0.

NORTHPORT (90) – Anthony 22, Tautuaa 19, Pringle 15, Grey 14, Lanete 8, Guinto 4, Bolick 3, Elorde 3, Taha 2, Sollano 0, Gabayni 0.

Quarterscores: 33-25, 53-59, 76-82, 103-90.

RELATED – PBA: Alaska stays in playoff hunt by dumping sliding Meralco

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RELATED – PBA: NLEX buries Blackwater, strengthens bid for playoff spot

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Alaska stays in playoff hunt by dumping sliding Meralco

‘He’s the best 2-way basketball player in the NBA’ – Lowry on Leonard ahead of game 6

Alaska breathed life into its PBA Philippine Cup playoff hopes by taking care of business against Meralco, 92-77, on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.

Five players, led by Jeron Teng’s 16 points, seven rebounds and three assists, scored in double figures for the Aces. Simon Enciso added 14 markers built around four threes, while Sonny Thoss and Chris Banchero added 13, respectively.

The Aces were only able to build separation in the third quarter, where two straight threes from Enciso turned a three-point ball game into a 51-42 lead. The Aces never let up the rest of the frame and even erected a 16-point lead after a Noy Baclao basket made it 60-44 midway.

The payoff period was no different as Alaska had answers for every Meralco attack, with Chris Banchero putting the icing on the cake with a three-point play to make it an 18-point, 92-74 lead with 1:48 remaining in the game.

Jeron Teng (Photo from the PBA Media Group)

JV Casio also chipped in 12 points in his conference debut for the Aces, who tied NLEX at 4-5 in the standings.

Meralco, meanwhile, was led by Nico Salva’s 23 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Nino Canaleta also added 18.

This loss pulled the Bolts down to 3-7, effectively dashing any hopes of a late quarterfinals push.

THE SCORES

ALASKA (92) – Teng 16, Enciso 14, Banchero 13, Thoss 13, CAsio 12, Racal 9, Cruz 7, Pascual 6, Baclao 2, Excimiano 0, Ayaay 0.

MERALCO (77) – Salva 23, CAnaleta 18, Newsome 11, Amer 8, Quinto 5, Tolomia 4, Hodge 3, Pinto 2, Hugnatan 2, Jackson 1, Faundo 0, Caram 0.

Quarterscores: 20-16, 45-38, 69-57, 92-77.

RELATED – PBA: Scottie Thompson anchors Ginebra over Jalalon, Magnolia in Manila Clasico OT

RELATED – PBA: NLEX buries Blackwater, strengthens bid for playoff spot

RELATED – PBA: Phoenix sinks San Miguel in Panabo to clinch top seed, twice-to-beat

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Phoenix sinks San Miguel in Panabo to clinch top seed, twice-to-beat

‘He’s the best 2-way basketball player in the NBA’ – Lowry on Leonard ahead of game 6

Phoenix Pulse locked up the first seed and a twice-to-beat advantage in the PBA Philippine Cup after outlasting San Miguel, 96-93, Saturday in Panabo City, Davao del Norte.

Matthew Wright finished with 25 huge points and five rebounds, while Alex Mallari added 12 points, six rebounds and six assists as the Fuel Masters ended the elimination cup with a 9-2 win-loss record.

In need of a basket to end a two-minute drought that held both teams to a 90-all deadlock, Wright delivered with a booming triple to put pressure on the Beermen with 1:16 left in the game.

Jason Perkins later extended the lead to five with a tough jumper with 39 seconds to go, but they still had to weather some scary moments in the clutch to go home with the win.

Santos cut the lead to 93-95 after nailing a huge triple with 31 seconds on the clock, but an Alex Cabagnot turnover and a split at the line by Perkins dashed any hopes of them completing a comeback from 13 down.

Matthew Wright (Photo credit: PBA Media Group)

RELATED – PBA: Don’t look now, but TNT offense finally catching up after slow start

San Miguel dropped to 6-4 and saw their four-game winning streak come to an end.

June Mar Fajardo led the Beermen with 29 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks, while Cabagnot added 17 points and five assists.

This is the Phoenix’s best elimination round finish in franchise history.

THE SCORES

PHOENIX (96) – Wright 25, Mallari 12, Perkins 10, Kramer 9, Chua 9, Jazul 8, Dennison 7, Revilla 5, Mendoza 4, Abueva 4, Marcelo 3.

SAN MIGUEL (93) – Fajardo 29, Cabagnot 17, Romeo 15, Santos 14, Lassiter 7, Nabong 5, Ross 4, Pessumal 2, Mamaril 0, Tubid 0, Ganuelas-Rosser 0.

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Gilas Pilipinas to clash against Serbia, Italy, Angola in FIBA World Cup

‘He’s the best 2-way basketball player in the NBA’ – Lowry on Leonard ahead of game 6

Gilas Pilipinas will have their work cut out for them after getting pooled with three powerhouses in Group D as the draw for the FIBA World Cup concluded earlier at the Shenzhen Bay Arena in China.

The draw, which was attended by NBA legends Kobe Bryant and Yao Ming, saw the Philippines get grouped with European favorites Serbia and Italy, as well as perennial FIBA Africa champions Angola.

Group D will play in Foshan in the World Cup staging on August 16 to September 31.

Italy, ranked 13th in the world, may banner Los Angeles Clippers forward Danilo Gallinari and San Antonio Spurs three-point specialist Marco Bellinelli.

RELATED -Meet the FIBA World Cup teams: Europe out to dish some serious damage

Danilo Gallinari (Photo from FIBA)

Meanwhile, world No. 4 Serbia could possibly trot a formidable lineup with Denver Nuggets All-Star center Nikola Jokic, Sacramento Kings teammates Bogdan Bogdanovic and Nemanja Bjelica, and 7-foot-3 giant Boban Marjanovic in the fold come tournament time.

RELATED – Meet the FIBA World Cup teams: USA, Spain and the top seeds

Nikola Jokic (Photo from FIBA)

Angola won’t be a cakewalk for Gilas Pilipinas too as they’ve emerged as champions from Africa 11 times from 1989 to 2017.

RELATED – Meet the FIBA World Cup Teams: Don’t underestimate Africa

32 nations will compete in eight groups, with only two of four teams from each group advancing to the next round.

Here are the other groupings:

Group A
1. Ivory Coast
2. Poland
3. Venezuela
4. China

Group B
1. Russia
2. Argentina
3. Korea
4. Nigeria

Group C
1. Spain
2. Iran
3. Puerto Rico
4. Tunisia

Group D
1. Angola
2. Philippines
3. Italy
4. Serbia

Group E
1. Turkey
2. Czech Republic
3. USA
4. Japan

Group F
1. Greece
2. New Zealand
3. Brazil
4. Montenegro

Group G
1. Dominican Republic
2. France
3. Germany
4. Jordan

Group H
1. Canada
2. Senegal
3. Lithuania
4. Australia

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