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Meralco import Gani Lawal. PBA IMAGES

MANILA, Philippines–Meralco scored in bunches early and used that cushion to hold off hard-fighting Columbian, 101-92, Friday night in the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Bolts went for eight unanswered points to start the game and kept on building on that groove en route to tabbing their first win in the conference.

“It’s always good to get that first win under your belt. We lost a really tough game last time out,” Meralco coach Norman Black said. “[Tonight] we did a lot better offensively and defensively.”

Import Gani Lawal had 25 points and 27 rebounds—both team bests—to help Meralco recover from a conference-opening loss to a young Blackwater side last weekend.

“I think our team worked on our offense. Everybody’s sharing the basketball and everybody’s being a part of the offense—that really helped us in this game. And that’s what we look to continue for our remaining games—which is to spread the wealth, so to say,” Black added.

The rest of the Bolts’ starters tossed in 10 or more, with Baser Amer registering 21 to lead the locals.

“My locals played very, very well today especially my guards. All three starting guards played well. Good team victory for us today. It’s something we could build on,” Black added.

Columbian drew 26 points from import Kyle Barone and 22 from star rookie CJ Perez. Three more added in twin digits in a bid to pull the rug from under Meralco.

But that attempt didn’t meet its fruition as Amer emptied eight of his total points in the final frame to help the Bolts move on.

Meralco continued to miss newly-acquired Raymond Almazan, who is still recovering from a left ankle sprain.

“Maybe another two games at least before he comes back,” Black said of his big man.

Meralco moves on to face crowd-darling Barangay Ginebra this Sunday again at the Big Dome in a bid to get some streak going.

“It’s going be interesting,” Black said when asked about Justin Brownlee, the Gin Kings’ returning import who denied them a chance at a title twice in the past.

“It’s going to be a big test for us. We’ll try to prepare our best game plan and see what happens Sunday.”

The scores:

Meralco 101 – Lawal 25, Amer 21, Jackson 17, Newsome 12, Hodge 10, Hugnatan 5, Tolomia 4, Pinto 3, De Ocampo 2, Salva 2, Faundo 0, Caram 0, Jamito 0, Quinto 0.

Columbian 92 – Barone 26, Perez 22, McCarthy 13, Cahilig 11, Corpuz 11, Khobuntin 3, Agovida 3, Reyes 2, Calvo 1, Faundo 0, Camson 0, Celda 0, Escoto 0, Tabi 0.

Quarterscores: 23-18, 50-35, 79-71, 101-92.

Written by: Denison Rey A. Dalupang

The post Gani Lawal, Baser Amer carry Meralco past Columbian appeared first on Philippine Basketball Association.

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FIVE PEAT. Beermen win their historic fifth straight PBA Philippine Cup championship. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines—Game 7 matched the hype and the San Miguel Beer lived up to its promise again.

Struggling mightily and pushed to their limit by a gutsy Magnolia side, the Beermen still found away to win and extend their reign in the PBA Philippine Cup for a historic fifth straight year.

Reigning five-time MVP June Mar Fajardo and Alex Cabagnot showed nerves of steel in the pressure-packed moments as the Beermen overcame the biggest challenge yet to their throne.

Fajardo willed his way to 17 points and career-high 31 rebounds that also set the all-time high for most rebounds by a local in a game.

Cabagnot fired nine of his 18 points in a back-and-forth final frame including a tough fadeaway jumper that put San Miguel ahead for good, 72-71, with 57.2 ticks to go.

Arwind Santos also had a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Beermen, who needed to climb back from a 17-point hole and withstood a dreadful second quarter where they scored measly five points.

The Hotshots had no reason to be ashamed of but had several moments down the stretch they will most likely regret as the title slipped away from their fingertips.

Jio Jalalon, who was brilliant all-game long, muffed a gimme that would’ve put Magnolia ahead with less than 10 seconds left. Ian Sangalang also missed from short range with under a minute to go.

To no one’s surprise, Fajardo bagged the Finals MVP award, the third of his career, after averaging 22.9 points, 19.1 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in the series.

Written by: Mark Giongco

The post San Miguel makes history with 5th straight Philippine Cup title, outlasts Magnolia in Game 7 appeared first on Philippine Basketball Association.

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PBA big man Raymond Almazan. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines–Meralco has acquired the services of star center Raymond Almazan from Rain or Shine on Tuesday, team manager Paolo Trillo said.

The PBA approved the trade that sent the Bolts’ rights to the 2019 and 2021 first round picks to the Elasto Painters in exchange for Almazan.

READ: As Almazan goes missing, six PBA teams interested

Almazan is just what the doctor ordered for Meralco, which has long sought for a big man.

The 6-foot-8 Almazan is expected to make his debut for the Bolts in the coming Commissioner’s Cup where he will be teaming up with import Gani Lawal down low.

Written by: Mark Giongco

The post Meralco acquires Raymond Almazan for 1st round draft picks appeared first on Philippine Basketball Association.

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MANILA, Philippines–Magnolia coach Chito Victolero had little to say about his team’s loss to San Miguel two nights ago.

His team would rather let their game speak—especially Mark Barroca—in the Hotshots’ stunning victory over the San Miguel Beermen, 88-86, to take a 3-2 Philippine Cup Finals series lead Friday night at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.

Barroca tied his sterling performance in Game 4 in most impressive fashion, sinking a mid-range jumpshot to win the game and put his team on the brink of the championship and cap what had been an eventful night in one fell swoop.

READ: ‘Spider Man’ storms court during PBA Finals, hits June Mar Fajardo

“I love that guy. He’s not afraid to shoot,” coach Victolero said. “Saktong, sakto ‘yung tira.”

“It was a miracle shot. I know that when they have some runs, we just needed to weather the storm,” he said. “This is the ballgame we wanted—as close as possible—to just have that chance in the end.”

The roller-coaster game hit fever pitch when a spectator in Spider-man costume stormed center court and accidentally hit June Mar Fajardo.

READ: After game 4 guarantee, Arwind Santos confident San Miguel can finally pull ahead

From thereon, the Beermen moved closer to the Hotshots all thanks to Terrence Romeo’s triple that knotted the game at 86.

The Hotshots have a chance to dethrone the four-time defending champions this Sunday at the same venue.

“Yes,” he said about being one game away from a championship. “But we know San Miguel. They won’t go down that easily.”

The post Mark Barroca ‘miracle shot’ puts Magnolia on brink of ending San Miguel’s PH Cup reign appeared first on Philippine Basketball Association.

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Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines–Magnolia held off San Miguel Beer, 99-94, for a 1-0 lead in the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup Finals Wednesday night at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Ian Sangalang and Paul Lee came up big down the stretch for the Hotshots, who also won the finals opener last year but ended up dropping the next four games to lose in the series.

Crowd starting to fill up the Big Dome for Game 1 of the #PBAFinals between San Miguel Beer and Magnolia. | @MarkGiongcoINQ pic.twitter.com/SknmF3TPEj

— INQUIRER Sports (@INQUIRERSports) May 1, 2019

“I talked to my players at halftime and I told them we can’t beat San Miguel on the offensive end and I’m very happy because they responded to the challenge by playing defense in the second half to limit San Miguel to under 100 points and that’s the key,” said Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero.

Sangalang posted a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds while Lee had 18 points, six rebounds and five assists.

The Hotshots overcame June Mar Fajardo’s herculean effort of 35 points and 21 rebounds.

Fajardo was unstoppable in the fourth quarter where he scored his team’s last 15 points inside the final seven minutes but his production were still not enough as San Miguel went cold from the outside.

The Beermen went 9-of-36 from long range including 0-of-8 by Marcio Lassiter, who just returned after being sidelined with back spasms in the last three games of the semifinals against Phoenix.

Alex Cabagnot added 18 points for San Miguel, which shot just 38 percent from the field. the Beermen lost despite hitting 17 more free throws than the Hotshots.

Game 2 is on Friday, 7 p.m., still at Araneta Coliseum.

Written by: Mark Giongco

The post Hotshots overcome June Mar Fajardo, Beermen for 1-0 lead appeared first on Philippine Basketball Association.

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James Yap with another reliable performance for Rain or Shine. PBA IMAGES

ANTIPOLO — Just as their foes were reaching for the dagger in the very arena where they have emerged unscathed and crowned as champions, the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters looked calm and collected, giving themselves a fightback of their own in Game 6 of the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals.

The Elasto Painters leaned on the marksmanship of Rey Nambatac and yet another steady performance by James Yap to fend off Magnolia, 91-81, and forge a decider for the last remaining Finals berth, Friday night at Ynares Center here.

“I just told the players to enjoy this game, to keep it simple and it worked,” said coach Caloy Garcia, whose squad managed to extend the series after falling in three consecutive meetings.

“I told them to not think about whatever happens and asked each one of them to play their game and stay relaxed,” he added.

And it showed.

Yap led all of Rain or Shine’s scorers with 16 while Nambatac and Beau Belga tossed in 15 apiece. Jewel Ponferrada added 11 more to preserve their promising start to their semifinal series.

Magnolia managed to knot the affair at 62 by the end of the third quarter, all thanks to Ian Sangalang’s showing.

But they had no answer for Nambatac, who started to catch fire from deep at the start of the final frame. From thereon, Nambatac and Yap took turns on scoring, snuffing out every ounce of counterattack the Hotshots mounted.

“Coming into Game 7, we just have to do the same,” Garcia said of their sudden-death match scheduled this Sunday at MOA Arena in Pasay.

“But Magnolia, coming into such situation, have much more experience. We just have to trust each other,” he added.

The victory snapped Magnolia’s eight-game streak at Ynares Center, where the Hotshots crowned Governor’s Cup champions last December. Their last loss came in Sept. 17, 2017, in the hands of TNT.

Rain or Shine could also deny Magnolia a chance to get back at its tormentors in last year’s all-Filipino finals.

The scores:

RAIN OR SHINE 91 – Nambatac 16, Yap 16, Belga 15, Ponferada 11, Torres 8, Norwood 8, Rosales 7, Ahanmisi 5, Daquioag 2, Mocon 2, Borboran 1.

MAGNOLIA 81 – Sangalang 19, Lee 18, Jalalon 14, Herndon 9, Brondial 6, Melton 5, Reavis 4, Barroca 3, Ramos 3, Dela Rosa 0, Pascual 0, Abundo 0.

Quarters: 21-17, 41-35, 62-62, 91-81.

Written by: Denison Rey A. Dalupang

The post Rain or Shine drags Magnolia to Game 7 for last PBA finals ticket appeared first on Philippine Basketball Association.

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Mark Barroca in action. PBA IMAGES

MANILA, Philippines–Following back-to-back losses in the PBA Philippine Cup, coach Chito Victolero has yearned for nothing more than rest for Magnolia.

He got that during the Lenten break and the Hotshots were never the same again.

Victolero and his wards typified that and more in Magnolia’s gritty 82-74 victory over Rain or Shine on Tuesday night at Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay, stringing up three straight wins and breaking their tie in their race-to-four series in one fell swoop.

“We just tried to be consistent. We tried to focus more on defense and limit their score under 90. Defensively I’m proud of what we’ve done,” Victolero told reporters.

“That’s where we draw our strength—energy,” he added. “Fresh legs are very important to my system. I badly wanted to have my players rest since we’e been tired physically and mentally.”

Mark Barroca and Jio Jalalon made up for Paul Lee’s unproductive night, scoring 14 each, while Rafi Reavis and Ian Sangalang tossed in nine and eight points, respectively, to help the Hotshots inch closer to a second-straight all-Filipino Finals appearance.

The Elasto Painters leaned on its skipper and their quiet contributor in this series Gabe Norwood to keep their foes within striking range.

But they had no answers for Magnolia, which aside from clamping them down to just 30% from the field, also managed to draw 54 points from its reinforcements.

“We’re number one in points allowed in defense [in the past]. As long as our defense is in good shape, we do well,” Victolero said.

Magnolia will try to close out the second-best team of the elimination round when they meet again on Friday at Ynares Center, where they enjoy an undefeated streak of sorts.

“That’s great news,” Victolero said of playing in Antipolo. “We just need to find ways again when we play them again.”

The scores:

MAGNOLIA 82 – Barroca 14, Jalalon 14, Reavis 9, Brondial 9, Sangalang 8, Herndon 8, Dela Rosa 7, Ramos 7, Melton 6, Lee 0.

RAIN OR SHINE 74 – Norwood 15, Yap 12, Borboran 11, Daquioag 9, Torres 8, Nambatac 6, Belga 5, Rosales 3, Mocon 3, Ahanmisi 2, Ponferada 0.

Quarters: 16-10, 40-34, 58-57, 82-74.

Written by: Denison Rey A. Dalupang

The post Magnolia closer to finals return, overcomes Rain or Shine in Game 5 appeared first on Philippine Basketball Association.

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MANILA, Philippines—San Miguel Beer faced a lot of questions from onlookers when it traded for the enigmatic yet dazzling guard Terrence Romeo in the offseason.

But amid all the noise and criticisms, the Beermen remained unbothered. All along, they knew exactly what they’re going to get.

After all, it’s no secret what Romeo can do with a basketball and he showed that again Tuesday in the semifinal stage.

“I mean you guys know what Terrence can do. He is one of the best in the country at putting the ball in the hole. He’s proven that through many years, he’s won many scoring championships. Everybody knows what type of player he is,” said San Miguel guard Chris Ross after his team’s 114-91 beatdown of Phoenix in Game 4 at Cuneta Astrodome.

Romeo unleashed a game-high 20 points, including 17 in the third quarter, where the Beermen’s 11-point lead ballooned to 26.

There’s no denying that Romeo ranks among the league’s best offensive players but the knack has been his shaky relationship with his teammates and coaches from his time with GlobalPort, the team that drafted him fifth overall in 2013, to his short uneventful stint with TNT where the two sides had a nasty fallout.

But the Romeo experiment has been a success so far for San Miguel, who added a lethal offensive spark off the bench to its already loaded roster.

“I got nothing but praise for him. Since he’s been with us, he’s been one of the best teammates you can have,” Ross said. “He’s adapting to our style of play and he’s adapting to what we do as a team.”

“He’s been with us for such a short time and he’s made so many strides in his game to fit with us and he’s a welcoming piece for us.”

Playing his best game yet as a member of the Beermen, Romeo deflected the credit to his teammates particularly Ross.

“Credit to my teammates especially to my brother Chris Ross because he really looks for me and he gives me the confidence to just keep playing my game,” Romeo said in Filipino.

SMB coach Leo Austria also raved about Romeo’s play in the third quarter which he believed became the “turning point” in Game 4.

“He was our main man tonight,” Austria said.

For Romeo, however, he remains just part of the main core’s supporting cast.

“The core of this team is still the first five. We’re just here to give them a good rest so that they’ll have fresh legs when they go back in,” he said. “I’ve accepted my role with the team. I’m okay with whatever role I play as long as it will help the team win.”

Four months ago, TNT traded away Romeo for reserves David Semerad and Brian Heruela and a 2021 first round pick.

On Tuesday night, Romeo finds himself just a win away from booking his first trip to the finals.

“My teammates have won many championships. They already know what it feels like to be in the finals. Me, if ever, it will be just my first time,” Romeo said. “But I’m not thinking about that yet. Phoenix will be prepared and we need to be focused on our next game.”

The post Beermen have ‘nothing but praise’ for Terrence Romeo appeared first on Philippine Basketball Association.

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MANILA, Philippines—The technical fouls kept coming and so were 3-pointers from Terrence Romeo.

Romeo took over in the third quarter and San Miguel Beer steamrolled Phoenix, 114-91, in another rough-and-tumble Philippine Cup semifinals duel for a 3-1 series lead Tuesday night at Cuneta Astrodome.

The explosive guard erupted for 17 points on 5-of-6 shooting from distance after going scoreless in the first half.

Romeo alone outscored the Fuel Masters in the third quarter, where the Beermen dominated, 30-15.

San Miguel looks to close out Phoenix on Thursday at the same venue.

The game saw two ejections and a ton of technical fouls called against both teams.

Written by: Mark Giongco

The post Terrence Romeo stars as San Miguel blows out Phoenix, nears finals berth appeared first on Philippine Basketball Association.

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MANILA, Philippines–Facing Alaska in a crucial game, NLEX will have to make do without its head coach Yeng Guiao for the rest of the way after he got ejected in the second quarter.

The fiery Guiao was tossed after he picked up two quick technical fouls with a little over five minutes left in the second period.

Guiao’s ouster, however, appeared to have lit a fire under the Road Warriors, who closed the quarter on a 14-5 run to take a 50-36 lead at the half.

The Road Warriors are currently 11th in the standings and a victory over the Aces will definitely boost their bid for a quarterfinals slot.

Written by: Mark Giongco

The post Yeng Guiao ejected in 2nd quarter of crucial NLEX game appeared first on Philippine Basketball Association.

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