Sports: Kings, Tropa: One more loss and you’re out!
Your Sideline Spectator is referring to both the defending Commissioner’s Cup champions Talk ‘N Text and last season’s losing finalists, the Barangay Ginebra Kings, who are both a setback away in their respective semis assignments from joining already eliminated teams Alaska, Meralco, Powerade, Rain or Shine, Petron and Air21 in the sidelines.
Last Saturday, fifth-ranked Barako Bull survived the Tropang Texters’ ferocious endgame rally from deficits of as high as 21 points to eke out a pulsating 85-81 triumph in Game 3 of their best-of-five seminal series for one of the two finals slots of the Philippine Basketball Association’s Second Conference featuring imports with no height limit.
After the Energy surprised TNT in Game 1 last April 10 over at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City via an 84-77 victory, the reigning champs pulverized Coach Junel Baculi’s charges in Game 2 two days later, 123-98, over at the same venue for a 1-all series standoff.
However, when pundits favored the Tropang Texters to take the decisive third meeting between the two quintets, Barako Bull surprised everyone once again as the Energy leaned on Mick Pennisi’s late-game triple to score another close win and take a 2-1 lead going into yesterday’s (April 16) crucial Game 4 at the Big Dome.
In Barako Bull’s latest victory, Gabe Freeman scored 27 markers to lead the Energy in offense with Willie Miller adding 17, Pennisi scoring 15, Danny Seigle chipping in 14 points and Oton,Iloilo-native Ronald Tubid contributing eight markers for Baculi’s ‘Manong Brigade’.
For Talk ‘N Text, skipper Jimmy Alapag got ejected in the physical game after incurring his second technical, both courtesy of his impatience shown against his ardent defender in Tubid. The usually cool Alapag finished with 14 points for TNT before getting thrown out in that highly physical match.
TNT was led by American reinforcement Donnell Harvey and Harvey Carey with 19 and 15 points, respectively, while Jayson Castro added 11 markers for mentor Chot Reyes’ wards who are in danger of crashing out of a conference finals for the first time in the last five conferences of the PBA’s last two seasons. The injured TNT import was reportedly to be replaced by Tiras Wade of the Westports Malaysia Dragons of the ASEAN Basketball League in last night’s match.
As for the B-Meg-Ginebra ‘sister act’, the Llamados and the Kings met last Sunday evening in Game 3 of their own race-to-three duel for the other finals seat over at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City with the Kings scoring an 88-79 triumph. Coach Tim Cone’s boys took the first two games by a combined 21-point winning margin for a huge 2-0 series advantage over the crowd favorites before Ginebra finally won last Sunday.
The Kings are hurting sans main man Mark Caguioa who suffered a fractured orbital bone courtesy of Escalante City’s James Yap of the Llamados during their playoff game for the second automatic semis berth last March 30 which was eventually won by Ginebra. He is considered day-to-day in as much as his expected return to the Kings’ active roster is concerned because of the severity of his latest injury.
Adding to Coach Siot Tanquincen’s woes is import Jackson Vroman’s limited offensive moves as well as the former Lebanese naturalized player’s lack of focus at endgame which resulted to Ginebra’s downfall particularly in Game 2 as B-Meg scored an all-important 83-77 win at the Smart Araneta Coliseum for a 2-nil series lead.
With Ginebra winning Game 3, the Llamados still have two more chances of taking a finals berth via a Game 4 victory today and another one in Game 5 this Thursday (if necessary). In the Kings’ nine-point win over B-Meg, KG Cañaleta topscored for Ginebra with 23 markers while Mike Cortez registered a triple double by scoring 17 points on top of 11 caroms and 10 assists to earn Best Player of the Game honors.
Cañaleta converted four triples in the pivotal payoff period against B-Meg’s token defense that somehow contributed to the final outcome while the Llamados lost Marc Pingris early in the second period after incurring two technical fouls in succession, first against former teammate Kerby Raymundo followed by a flagrant foul on another fellow B-Meg stalwart in Cañaleta.*
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