Jan 22, 2023

FiberXers off to roaring start, blast depleted Batang Pier

FROM their solid fifth-place finish in the PBA Commissioner's Cup, coach Aldrin Ayo and his Converge FiberXers returned with a bang.

Converge denied NorthPort a triumphant first game under new coach Boni Tan, unleashing a massive salvo in the second quarter for a breakaway en route to an emphatic 122-92 win on opening night of the PBA Governors Cup at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig Sunday.

From a slim one-point lead, the FiberXers ripped the game open, 66-46, on a 40-21 second-period juggernaut and roared to a franchise-best 30-point winning start.

Ethan Rusbatch had a relatively silent first game as Converge import but the locals hit good strides, enough to negate Marcus Weathers' 37-point and12-rebound job for the Batang Pier.

Maverick Ahanmisi marked his return from an injury with a career-high 29-point explosion and Jeron Teng, Abu Tratter, David Murrell, Jerrick Balanza and Taylor Browne put in double-digit contributions as the FiberXers gave debuting team manager Dennis Pineda a warm welcome.

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Ahanmisi fired 17 and trade recruit Balanza rifled in 11 in their second-quarter breakaway from which the Batang Pier failed to recover from.

Rusbatch was good for only 17 markers plus nine rebounds, but drew fine words from his teammates.

"Credit belongs to Ethan, he helped seal and spread the floor for us, and also allowing me to attack the basket," said Ahanmisi.

The Batang Pier were into the game only in the first quarter, struggling badly minus injured top guns Robert Bolick (hamstring) and Arwind Santos (knee).
But the FiberXers also missed chief playmaker Aljun Melecio with his own health woe.

Ayo said the team started slow "because there are players na naghahanap ng puntos."
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Starting to get their act together in the second period, the FiberXers thundered to a 20-point spread at the turn, and there's no turning back for the team from there. (SB)

The Scores:

Converge 122 - Ahanmisi 29, Rusbatch 17, Teng 16, Tratter 13, Balanza 13, Murrell 12 Browne 11, Arana 6, Racal 3, Stockton 2, Ebona 0, Tolomia 0, Ambohot 0

NorthPort 92 - Weathers 37, Tolentino 12, Calma 10, Munzon 9, Sumang 5, Chan 5, Salado 4, Caperal 2, Taha 2, Vigil 2, Ayaay 2, Balagasay 2, Zamar 0, Dela Cruz 0,

QUARTERS: 26-25, 66-46, 88-69, 122-92