Nearly 1,500 kilometers away from home, these hard-luck Pirates finally struck gold.
Breakthrough win number one for the Pasig Pirates in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Anta Datu Cup came via an 81-78 squeaker over the Rizal Crusaders.
After a disastrous 0-6 start, the Gameville-backed Pirates opened up the MPBL Visayas-Mindanao invasion with a historic first win in franchise history inside the packed USEP Gymnasium in Davao Del Sur. Six players, led by Jonathan Aldave and Marlon Monte, finished in double-figures for Pasig in an emotionally-charged road win over the Xentro Mall-backed Crusaders.
FOX Sports Philippines rolls out the notes and numbers from last night’s Pasig-Rizal clash:
– In search of that elusive first win, the Pirates started off strong against the Crusaders right at the first half. The James Machate-mentored squad built a 41-31 lead at half time, which then ballooned to 23 at the 7:42 of the third quarter courtesy of an Edok Doroteo three-point play. Down 54-31, the Crusaders managed to cut the lead down to 11 by the end of the third canto.
– The Braulio Lim-coached Crusaders came alive in the final frame behind the inspired play of Popoy Banzali. With 1:55 remaining, Banzali hit a three to cut the Pasig lead to one, 75-74. After forcing a turnover off Pasig playmaker Marlon Monte, Banzali would score on a coast-to-coast lay-up to give Rizal a 76-75 advantage with 1:45 left in the game.
– Monte would atone for his error in the previous play by draining the go-ahead triple at the final 1:28 to swing the favor back to the Pirates, 78-76. And with just 46 ticks to go, Monte made it 81-76 for Pasig with another booming three-pointer. The Crusaders fell into a maze of turnovers in their next three possessions as they failed to sustain their searing rally from 23 points down. The Pirates, on the other hand, averted another meltdown as they held on to the three-point victory.
– Former PBA standout Jonathan Aldave paced the Pirates with 16 points on 5-of-10 (50%) field goal shooting, with five rebounds and three steals. Adjudged as the game’s best player was Monte, finishing with 15 points including the two biggest triples of the night, along with six assists. Martin Gozum and Kenneth Carongoy chipped in 10 markers apiece.
– Bernzon Franco, another PBA veteran, turned in a 14-point, 11-rebound double-double performance for Pasig. Another solid contributor for the Pirates was Doroteo, who tallied 11 points, seven rebounds and seven blocks.
– Jerome Juanico led the Crusaders with 19 points, making 7-of-15 (46%) shots from the field. Banzali fell a rebound shy from a double-double, tallying 17 points and nine rebounds. Banzali, though, struggled from the floor after hitting just six field goals out of 21 attempts (28%).
– The Pirates shot better from the field, converting 51% (31/60) of their attempts compared to the Crusaders’ 34% (30/86). The assists story was also in favor of the Pirates, 22-15. With Doroteo as their rim protector, Pasig also edged Rizal in blocked shots, 11-2.
– Turnover problems still hounded the Pirates, a trend that is quite evident in their first six games. They threw the ball over 27 times, which the Crusaders converted to 31 turnover points. Of the Crusaders’ 20 turnovers, the Pirates capitalized with 18 points.
– With their second unit scoring more than half of their total output, Rizal lorded it over Pasig in bench points, 42-15. The Crusaders also registered 14 steals compared to the Pirates’ eight.
– On September 12, the Pirates (1-6) will try to score a back-to-back as they clash with the San Juan Knights at the Bataan People’s Center in Balanga. The Crusaders (2-6) will aim to bounce back on September 11 as they host the Navotas Clutch at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.