Barako Bull chases down Petron for 5th win
MANILA, Philippines - The physicality and tension of the game between the Petron Blaze Boosters and the Barako Bull Energy Cola reached a fever pitch when Petron's Jason Deutchman crash landed at the SMART Araneta Coliseum's patron area as he was chasing down the ball near the close of the third quarter.
Even Dorian Peña figured in some words backed by two free throws to silence the Petron crowd late in the fourth.
But when the dust settled at the final buzzer, it was Barako Bull who stood tall as they upset the number two team Petron, 92-88, on Wednesday, January 8 in the PLDT myDSL Philippine Cup.
The boys of coach Bong Ramos came into the game bannering a lot of spunk and spewing plenty of energy - something that clearly helped them gain confidence, particularly down the stretch.
Ramos credits this and the resulting victory to the much improved chemistry among his players and with the coaching staff as well.
"Before medyo yung chemistry namin wala pa, ngayon siguro medyo nade-develop na sa isa't isa. Ganoon din sa coaches and players," Ramos explained. "Nagagamay ko na sila at nagagamay na rin nila ako." (Before we didn't have good chemistry, but now we're slowly developing that with each other. The same with coaches and players. We're getting familiar with each other.)
Barako made up for its miserable second quarter by playing much better basketball in the fourth, when it mattered most.
JC Intal scored the bucket that broke the 85-all tie with under two minutes remaining, and Willie Miller was somehow left wide open in the ensuing play that allowed him to sink a baseline jumper, making it 89-85 with 53 seconds on the clock.
As the crowd backing Barako Bull rose to their feet in anticipation of an impending upset, Alex Cabagnot was able to fish for the foul from Milller as he was shooting a three. He made all his charities to give Petron a good chance at grabbing what could have been their ninth win.
But a wild play ensued as both teams fought for the loose ball. Denok Miranda somehow ended up with the leather and with their shot clock winding down, he passed the ball to an open Intal underneath the basket who slammed it home for a three-point 91-88 lead with 27 seconds remaining.
And just like the first game of the day between Air21 and Talk 'N Text, there were no breakdowns for Barako Bull on their way to upsetting Petron.
"As we said we will continue to surprise teams. We're lucky because June Mar (Fajardo) did not play. But even though, they're coming from a convincing game without June Mar against Talk 'N Text," Ramos said. "So we came up with a different kind of defense when we started but we adjusted in the second half."
Barako Bull capitalized on the absence of Petron's sophomore big man June Mar Fajardo, who sat out his third game due to a sprained knee when he stepped on the foot of teammate Doug Kramer in practice last year.
Without Fajardo, the Energy Cola won the battle of the boards, 53-44, and scored 15 second-chance points.
Petron's defense was simply insurmountable in the second quarter when they limited the Energy Cola to a measly 12 points, and eventually only 36 first half points. The stingy defense also meant that Barako could barely move the ball and set up their offense. They ended up with only one assist for the entire second quarter.
Petron also had the upper hand for most of the contest before Barako Bull clung to the confidence-boosting third quarter closeout that led to Barako outscoring Petron in the fourth, 29-17.
Peña led the Energy Cola with another impressive double-double output of 18 points and 10 rebounds. He shot 7-of-12 from the field and a perfect 4-of-4 from the line. He even added 3 assists and a theft to his stat line.
Intal and Miranda added 17 and 11 points, respectively, to their cause as Barako created some separation from the pack in the middle of the standings with a 5-7 win-loss card. They now hold solo fifth place.
Meanwhile, Petron is now tied with Rain or Shine at 8-3 even as they relied on balanced scoring and good rotation against Barako.
All 10 Boosters fielded in scored at least 4 points with Chris Lutz leading the way with 17 points. Alex Cabagnot and Arwind Santos each had 15 points.
Barako Bull (92): Peña 18, Intal 17, Miranda 11, Lastimosa 10, Pennisi 9, Maierhofer 7, Miller 7, Isip 6, Buenafe 5, Wilson 2
Petron (88): Lutz 17, Cabagnot 15, Santos 15, Lanete 8, Kramer 8, Lassiter 7, Tubid 6, Taha 4, Deutchman 4, Ross 4
Quarter scores: 24-21, 36-47, 63-71, 92-88 -Rappler.com