The 2017 PBA Commissioner’s Cup hits the road Saturday, featuring the return of Terrence Romeo as GlobalPort tangles with Star at the Mindanao Civic Center in Tubod, Lanao del Norte.
GlobalPort coach Franz Pumaren confirmed the return of Romeo from sickness that caused the league scoring champ to miss their first game in the tourney and, early on, Gilas Pilipinas’ three-day training camp in Splendido Taal.
Minus Romeo, the Batang Pier were ripped apart by the Alaska Milk Aces, 79-107.
The Star Hotshots, meanwhile, got off to an impressive 101-82 conference debut against the Phoenix Fuel Masters Wednesday.
GlobalPort’s game is likely to improve a lot as Romeo gets back in harness forming a potential deadly triumvirate with backcourt partner Stanley Pringle and import Sean Williams.
Williams and Pringle came up with big numbers but failed to get the needed support from their teammates. The Batang Pier terribly missed Romeo and his season-best average of 28.8 points an outing.
The Star Hotshots and import Tony Mitchell put in a big game together in their 19-point conquest of the Fuel Masters.
Mitchell more than held his own against Jameel McKay in a duel of PBA debuting imports, helping the Hotshots get past a team they swept in three matches in the Philippine Cup.
Mitchell shrugged off early fouls as he collected 24 points and 16 rebounds in showing his stuff as a former Detroit Piston.
Star local gunners Mark Barroca, Allein Maliksi and PJ Simon also provided firepower, outplaying and outgunning their Phoenix counterparts much to the dismay of coach Ariel Vanguardia.
“Bugbog kami sa guards matchup. Their guards are raping ours. Parang pag nakita nila ang mga guwardya namin, nasa isip nila ‘let’s attack them,’” said Vanguardia.
Barroca, Maliksi, Simon and Paul Lee, however, are likely to have their hands full against Romeo and Pringle.
FOR THE THIRD straight game, the Meralco Bolts held their opponent below 90 points and came through with the win.
The defense-oriented Bolts imposed their game on TNT and import Louis Amundson, carving out a third consecutive victory with a 94-89 drubbing of the Ka Tropa in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Friday night.
“(Playing tough defense) seemed to be the key. That’s what we’re trying to focus on because we don’t have a team that can score 100 points a night. So it’s really important for us to defend,” said Meralco coach Norman Black.
Offensively, the Bolts put enough points to stretch a winning streak that started with a 94-86 topping of the Mahindra Floodbuster on the tournament opener followed by a 91-84 repulsing of the NLEX Road Warriors Sunday.
Alex Stepheson, Baser Amer, Jared Dillinger, Chris Newsome and Reynel Hugnatan led the efficient Meralco effort that sent the Ka Tropa down on their knees in their first game in the mid-season conference.
Amundson, rookie Roger Pogoy and Ryan Reyes top scored for the Ka Tropa as coach Nash Racela let Jayson Castro to continue to rest. Castro missed their do-or-die showdown with Barangay Ginebra in the Philippine Cup semifinals due to a hamstring pull.
Amundson, a 10-year NBA veteran, debuted in the local pro league with 19 points and 18 rebounds.
He plays another game with the Ka Tropa versus the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Sunday, then he’s likely to be replaced by former Sacramento King Donte Greene who flew in Thursday. TNT is still in the process of working Greene’s papers.
Stepheson proved to be a more dominant force, producing 27 rebounds and 20 points in another monstrous double-double game.
“A big part of our defense is Alex. He’s really dominant in getting the rebounds and in defending the lane. That’s what we needed from him. That’s the reason why we recruited him,” said Black.
“It’s quite different now (from the Philippine Cup) because we have a man in the middle. Our local guys are confident we can compete with any team because of him,” Black added.
The Ka Tropa actually stayed right behind the Bolts, trailing just by three at 82-85 entering the homestretch.
But they shot themselves on the foot with their atrocious 8-of-21 free throws.
MAHINDRA went up against an NLEX squad that couldn\'t shoot straight Wednesday and got away with a breakthrough 89-81 win in the PBA Commissioner\'s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
James White notched 30 points and 22 rebounds while his local teammates took turns helping out as the Floodbuster finally crashed the win-column after opening up the mid-season tourney with back-to-back losses.
The likes of Reden Celda, Ryan Arana, Gary David, LA Revilla and even Mark Yee each played crucial roles, enabling Mahindra to post as much as a 51-36 third quarter lead before easily shrugging off any NLEX threat.
“Extremely gritty win tonight,” said Mahindra shot-caller Chris Gavina. “We’re moving past our previous mistakes, missed assignments, and lack of execution.”
Gavina also said his charges also stayed truer to the system he\'s been trying to instill from the start of the season. “We played to our identity tonight, toughness, mentally as well as physically, against a well-coached NLEX side,” he said.
The road block, meanwhile, remains up for the Road Warriors, who got relegated to the bottom of the 12-team field after absorbing its third straight setback.
Wayne Chism wound up with 28 points and 21 rebounds and Jansen Rios added a conference-high 15 points, but NLEX as a whole made only 33 of 87 field goal tries, including 2-of-26 from beyond the arc.
Compounding the Road Warriors\' woes, they missed half of their 26 free throw attempts, negating their 60-52 advantage off the boards and plus-20 domination of inside points.
The bricks came the most for NLEX during the payoff period, where it made only seven of 21 shots, helping take the steam out of its fightback to within 70-74.
A last-gasp charge from a 70-84 deficit put the Road Warriors within five, but charities by Revilla and Arana, the last pegging the count at 87-79, only 17 ticks left, practically put the game away.
Sean Anthony could have helped NLEX, but he has to rest a week due to a strained knee as he joined Enrico Villanueva (left knee) on the sidelines.
Mahindra would simply not be denied, although White got to score only two points in the final frame. Besides, he set the tone earlier on with eight of his points in the third quarter before Celda and Arana took charge.
Celda and Arana scored six points each as the Floodbuster went on a 12-2 run spanning the two last quarters to take a 74-62 lead.
White missed only one out of nine shots and already had 20 points and 15 rebounds in the first half while also spearheading an 8-1 run to end the second quarter that gave Mahindra a 44-34 lead.
Chism had his own third double-double in the bag with 10 and 10, but got only a smattering of local support, mostly from fellow starter Raul Soyud and Eric Camson.
The Floodbuster actually sat on as much as a 36-24 lead, but the Road Warriors gamely fought back and had Camson leading the way as they whittled the difference to just two points.
Kung energy ang paguusapan, wala nang tutumbas pa kay Calvin Abueva.
So energetic was Abueva, who has nearly played non-stop basketball for the past two years .
He has played in almost all levels of competition – be it the PBA, the FIBA Asia Championship, the William Jones Cup tournament and the FIBA 3 x 3 World Tour. His team, Alaska, has figured in the finals series four times over the last two years, until an injury forced then Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin not to include The Beast in the final roster of the national team to the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila.
Pero hindi pa rin natitinag si Abueva at hindi siya nanghihinayang na makipagkumpetensiya sa mas bata at mga kasing agrisibong player na katulad niya.
“Masarap pa ring maglaro talaga sa Gilas. Walang inggitan dito,” Abueva told pba.ph.
On Gilas Pilipinas’ first practice session in the metropolis, Abueva showed up and competed with young frontliners, among them Mac Belo, Norbert Torres, Von Pessumal, Carl Cruz, Bradwyn Guinto, Raymond Almazan, Fonso Gotladera and Kevin Ferrer.
But Abueva believes cracking the line up won’t be an easy task as he has to work his way in making it to the final 12 for the SEABA Men’s Championship this May.
Paano nga ba naghahanda si Abueva?
“Kukuha ka talaga ng slot dyan sa 24. Maski hindi mo sabihin, hindi mo ibibigay yung slot mo. Paghihirapan mo yan,” added Abueva.
“Dahil mga bata mga kasama namin dapat mas maging aggressive kami. “Maraming bata, mas mataas yung energy. Mga wala pang experience yung ibang bata dito pero sige lang sila nang sige.”
For Abueva, the direction coach Chot Reyes to get young players is a good ploy as they will train together for the next three years. Gilas Pilipinas will need to win the SEABA Men’s Championship first here in Manila in order to qualify for the FIBA Asia Cup, formerly known as the FIBA Asia Championship.
The FIBA Asia Cup will determine the qualifiers for the six-window, home and away tournaments leading to the 2019 World Cup.
Mahaba-haba pa ang lalakbayin ng Gilas Pilipinas pero handa si Abueva na mapabilang sa koponan.
“Maganda yung ginagawa ni Coach Chot (Reyes), bagay na bagay sa mga bata na wala nang play-play. Basta laro lang ng laro,” added Abueva.
AFTER a stirring 2-0 start, the Meralco Bolts brace themselves for a first major test versus the TNT KaTropa and import Louis Amundson in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Friday.
“TNT is a real tough team,” said Meralco coach Norman Black, hoping his team would be able to sustain their solid effort in their first two games to have a chance against the Texters.
The Ka Tropa dismantled the Bolts, 105-91, in the last Philippine Cup.
In their Commissioner’s Cup rematch, the Bolts will also have to deal with the TNT import that they’re not familiar with.
A replacement to Denzel Bowles, Amundson came in with sterling credentials including a 10-year stint in the NBA.
A UNLV product, the 6-foot-9 Amundson showed his wares in the NBA from 2006 to 2016, playing first for the Utah Jazz then with the Philadelphia 76ers, the Phoenix Suns, the Golden State Warriors, the Indiana Pacers, the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Chicago Bulls, the New Orleans Pelicans, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the New York Knicks.
He has NBA career averages of 3.7 points and 3.6 rebounds, and among his career highlights was a 17-rebound performance last year against the San Antonio Spurs.
“Our defense has got to be strong, and we have to sustain a good team effort,” said Black.
The Bolts and import Alex Stepheson were pretty solid in their first two games, first drubbing the Mahindra Floodbuster, 94-86, then clobbering the NLEX Road Warriors, 91-84.
Stepheson dished out an even better performance in his second game in the local pro league, following up a 21-rebound, 11-point PBA debut with 18 markers and 20 boards.
But Black put a lot of credit on team effort and defense.
“It’s a second straight game we held our opponents to less than 90 points. Our defense really stepped up,” said Black.
“Our locals stepped up a lot. They did well a lot better than in the all-Filipino tourney. Overall, we put in a good team effort. We just have to continue to do that,” Black also said.