Air21 sends GlobalPort packing with 106-102 win
MANILA, Philippines – The GlobalPort Batang Pier have now officially been eliminated from playoff contention.
The Air21 Express made sure of that, beating Coach Pido Jarencio and his boys, 106-102, behind 17 points and eight rebounds from Asi Taulava and 28 markers from import Dominique Sutton in the PBA Home Telpad Governors’ Cup on Wednesday, June 11, at the Philsports Arena.
The Express improve to 5-3, making up for their close loss to the San Mig Coffee Mixers in their last outing. On the other hand, the Batang Pier fall to 1-7, now without any shot of making the conference playoffs, and worsening Coach Jarencio’s overall PBA win-loss clip to 2-15.
The losing side was spearheaded by Dion Lowhorn, who finished with 35 points. Jay Washington pitched in as well, putting up 19 markers.
After receiving a nasty cut and leaving the game in the second quarter, Taulava returned to start the second half and managed to quickly get a basket despite needing further medical assistance. However, at the 6:09 mark, the big man’s scar started to flow blood again, forcing him out of the playing court.
Concurrently, the Express were able to maintain their margin, and led by eight with five minutes left in the third.
A crossover by Ronjay Buenafe moments later made the count 73-67, as the Batang Pier started to creep in again while forcing the Express to low-percentage shot attempts on defense. But thanks to Taulava, who returned with more bandages, Air21 was able to respond quickly and extend its breathing room back to 10.
However, GlobalPort didn’t falter and leaned on the brilliance of Alex Cabagnot, who totaled 19 points and propelled his squad in the final minute of the third quarter with five quick points to make the count 78-75, Express, entering the final period.
The guys in black continued to pounce on their opponents to start the deciding canto, racking up seven markers in less than two minutes while keeping Air21’s offense humbled. In just the blink of an eye, the tables were turned and the Batang Pier had its first lead of the game, 82-78.
Minutes later, a terrific dunk by Sutton was closely followed by a Taulava bucket inside, returning the edge to the guys in purple and white. GlobalPort tried to counter, but a crucial turnover paved the way for a Jonas Villanueva layup, making the count 91-86, Air21, with 5:06 to go.
Lowhorn refused to let his team cave in and registered six straight points to up his total to 34 points and cut the Express’ lead to three, 95-92, with 3:02 remaining.
With less than 90 seconds to go, an Air21 offensive rebound led to a trip to the line for Taulava, who split his free throws. After a video review awarded GlobalPort the ball, Lowhorn threw down another jam, trimming the disparity between both squads to two.
An exchange of baskets between Mark Macapagal and Taulava made the count 102-99 with 23 seconds remaining. The Batang Pier managed to get a good attempt to tie the match, but Buenafe’s shot clanked off the ring. After which, Villanueva was able to convert his free throws to put a stamp on the ball game.
Joseph Yeo and Villanueva helped out in the scoring department as well, combining for 28 markers while Cardona had another troublesome performance, recording just four points.
Buenafe also had 16 for the losing side, while Romeo finished with just seven.
Air21 came out as the aggressors of the contest, while the Pido Jarencio-coached team played as lethargic as they were in their most recent blowout loss.
A couple of threes by Simon Atkins and Yeo spearheaded the Express’ early assault, which reached 9-0 following a thunderous Sutton slam. However, Air21 wouldn’t stop there, extending its advantage to 15 until a tandem of charities by Lowhorn finally put some points on the scoreboard for GlobalPort.
Nonetheless, nothing could put a halt to the Express’ loaded offense, as Mark Borboran and Aldrech Ramos proceeded to nail shots from the outside despite good contests. The Batang Pier’s inside defense, though, was paltry, as Sutton and Yeo continuously attacked the paint to get easy lay-ups.
GlobalPort’s offense turned more fluid with the presence of Cabagnot, who hit a 3-ball and set up a couple more for Washington and Buenafe. But his team still trailed after 12 minutes of action, 29-20.
In the second quarter, the Express’ offense stopped functioning as guys started to rely more on isolation plays and one-on-ones. The Batang Pier quickly took advantage, leaning on the offensive talents of Romeo and Cabagnot, who pushed the game to within six, 38-32, at the six-minute mark.
Following an easy lay-up by Romeo on the break, the Franz Pumaren-coached team awoke from their slumber by attacking passing lanes on defense and causing turnovers. Two straight conversions by Sutton capped off a quick 9-3 run, putting his team back up double-digits, 49-38.
With a little over three minutes to go in the first half, Taulava received a cut near his eye after receiving an elbow from Lowhorn during the latter’s drive to the rim. The incident forced the Air21 big – who needed five stitches and has a history with Lowhorn – out of the game, causing a hole in the Express’ paint defense.
With the former PBA MVP absent, the GlobalPort import and the rest of his club penetrated to the rim continuously and scored on consecutive possessions to cut their opponents’ advantage to four, 49-45. However, Sutton, who had 17 markers and 11 rebounds at the half, responded with a flurry of dunks and drives to help keep the Batang Pier at bay.
The first half concluded with Air21 on top, 55-47, but not before Borboran and Romeo confronted each other near midcourt.
Air21 (106) – Sutton 28, Taulava 17, Villanueva J. 15, Yeo 13, Ramos 8, Atkins 6, Borboran 5, Poligrates 4, Cardona 4, Villanueva E. 2, Burtscher 2, Camson 2, Menor 0
GlobalPort (102) – Lowhorn 35, Cabagnot 19, Washington 19, Buenafe 16, Romeo 7, Macapagal 4, Menk 2, Yee 0, Lingganay 0, Hayes 0, Salvador 0, Garcia 0, Acuna 0
Quarter Scores: 29-20, 55-47, 78-75, 106-102