Fastbreak: Asi vs Ginebra’s twin towers, Alaska vets step up

Enzo Flojo
Ginebra's twin towers Aguilar and Slaughter get the better of Asi Taulava; veteran guards Hontiveros, Baguio combine for 47 points for the Aces

TOWERS AND VETERANS. Asi Taulava shoots over Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar; Cyrus Baguio and Dondon Hontiveros guard Jared Dillinger. Photos by Nuki Sabio/PBA Images 

Ginebra over Air21, 78-69

The Best: After the game, Air21 center Asi Taulava had this to say, “You cannot teach height.” Coming from a guy who’s listed 6’9″ and who has seen more than his fair share of big guys from the Philippines and beyond, that comment is big. Who was he talking about? Ginebra’s twin towers no doubt! In this contest, both Japeth Aguilar 6’9″ and Greg Slaughter 7’0 were stellar. Aguilar tallied 22 points, 12 rebounds, and, hold on to your horses, 8 BLOCKED SHOTS, while 2013 top pick Slaughter added 19 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Both young bigs combined to shoot 16/24 from the two-point area. Unstoppable.

The Worst: It was actually a very good thing Ginebra’s towering tandem was on-target, mainly because the Kings’ outside shooting left much to be desired. As a team, Ginebra knocked down only 2 of their 23 three-point attempts. Chris Ellis, LA Tenorio, and Jayjay Helterbrand combined to shoot 0/9 from beyond the arc, while Mark Caguioa and Mac Baracael were the only ones who made threes, shooting a combined 2/8 from rainbow country.

Ninja Moves: Despite the loss, though, here’s one thing the Express can be proud of – they are responsible for the resurgence of Joseph Yeo’s game. Dubbed “The Ninja,” the former DLSU cager seems to have finally found a niche with Air21, as he has been putting up much better numbers than last year. It sure looks like his being reunited with collegiate coach Franz Pumaren has a lot to do with that.

Alaska over Meralco, 91-82

The Best: Veterans DonDon Hontiveros and Cyrus Baguio rose to the occasion as the Aces beat the Bolts to move up to a tie for fifth spot in the team standings. Hontiveros shot 11/16 from the field in a performance reminiscent of his San Miguel Beer days. He finished with 24 points on top of 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal. Baguio, meanwhile, connected on 9/16 field goals and scored a total of 23 markers. He also grabbed 4 rebounds and handed out 3 dimes. Alaska showed how good it can be when its vets are all clicking. (READ: No panic button yet for coach Luigi Trillo)

The Worst: Meralco was outworked. Despite coming up with more rebounds (50-48), the Bolts were outscored on the offensive glass, 12-4. Meralco also ended up with more turnovers (13-8), which led to the Aces scoring 15 points off those errors. John Wilson was the main culprit here with 4 TOs. Meralco wasted a great effort by Reynel Hugnatan, who stepped up with 15 points and 11 rebounds. The Bolts are now tied at fifth place with their tormentors.

Huge Haul: Gabby Espinas isn’t exactly top-of-mind when one talks about the top rebounders in the PBA, but, man, he cleaned glass like there was no tomorrow in this game. The former PCU Dolphin racked up 23 boards, which was nearly half of Alaska’s total output. If he can be consistent with this kind of rebounding performance, then the Aces might just be a dark horse come the quarterfinals. –

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