Air21 scrapes past Globalport on Christmas

MANILA, Philippines - The Air21 Express gave no love to the Globalport Batang Pier on Christmas as they clawed their way past them in an overtime treat, 109-103, in the PLDT myDSL Philippine Cup on Wednesday, December 25 at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Air21 secured themselves a tremendous confidence-boosting win at the expense of Globalport thanks to the monster performances of their main guys in Asi Taulava, Mark Cardona, Joseph Yeo, and with the help of Vic Manuel and KG Canaleta.

"Bottom line is it was a total team effort," said Air21 head coach Franz Pumaren. "We didn't quit when we were down and I guess that's the mark of a team that's really, really willing to improve our current position."

The Express overhauled a 17-point lead and forced the overtime late in the game with a basket by Taulava, knotting the count at 93-all, to the delight of the fans in the Arena.

In overtime, however, Taulava fouled out at the 2:22 mark after he scored on major possessions and injected more fuel into the pumped up Air21 squad. He finished with 28 points and 13 boards.

Yeo, on the other hand, bagged his first career triple-double with 19 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists to his name.

Yeo proved to be a vital cog in Air21's late run in the extra period, making the right assists and grabbing all-important rebounds to save possessions. He made it 105-100 for Air21 with two freebies with 45 seconds left.

Cardona, however, also could not be stopped as he scored the Express' last 4 points to put away Globalport for good.

Globalport could have cruised to an easy win on Christmas but they squandered a 17-point lead in the second quarter and succumb to an 11-0 blast by Air21 to end the first half with a slim 53-47 lead.

Air21 carried the momentum they built into the second half, outscoring Globalport, 23-13. Cardona, who scored 28 points on 10-of-17 shooting, gave Air21 its first taste of the lead in the third canto, 68-66, as they went on to finish that period leading by 4, 70-66, on a Cardona floater.

Both teams exchanged baskets throughout much of the payoff period, dragging themselves into deeper waters.

Sol Mercado, who finished with 35 points on 5 triples, took charge for Globalport with 1:20 left, making a basket for a precarious 92-91 lead for his team. But his efforts weren't enough as Globalport suffered its second straight loss.

Meanwhile, Pumaren revealed that better things are coming for Air21 come January as they look to beef up their roster with some new additions.

"Been talking to management [about] getting additional support so hopefully by January in our next game we'll be having new guys that will surely help us," he said. 

The scores:

Air21 (109) - Taulava 28, Cardona 28, Yeo 19, Manuel 14, Canaleta 11, Camson 5, Jaime 2, Custodio 2, Menor 0, Arboleda 0, Sharma 0.

GlobalPort (103) - Mercado 35, Washington 21, Romeo 16, Salva 9, Lingganay 7, Menk 5, Salvador 4, Yee 2, Hayes 2, Garcia 2, Nabong 0, Chua 0.

Quarters: 21-32, 47-53, 70-66, 93-93, 109-103

- Jane Bracher/