Petron Blaze, the champions of the last PBA tournament, has quickly made its presence felt in the season-opening Philippine Cup with back-to-back victories in just three days.
The Boosters banked on their torrid outside shooting to whip the Barako Bull Energy, 95-83, at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
Alex Cabagnot and rookie Chris Lutz picked up from where they left off only two nights ago, with their shooting hardly changing be it at the oven-hot Cuneta Astrodome or the cool and calm atmosphere inside the Ynares Center.
Cabagnot finished with 22 points, built around six three-point shots, while Lutz contributed 17 points, a game after debuting with a 19-point performance. Arwind Santos played his usual game, adding 19 points. The trio combined for 11 three-pointers, demolishing Barako Bull’s defensive scheme.
“Nakapag-adjust kami sa zone defense nila, buti nag-click yung outside shooting namin,” said Petron coach Ato Agustin.
The Boosters quickly jumped to the top of leaderboard with a 2-0 record. They nipped B-MEG on Wednesday, 73-69, spoiling the coaching debut of Tim Cone for the Llamados.
While the Boosters were working their game from the perimeter, the Energy opted to use their size advantage. Barako’s inside game enabled the squad to start a 19-7 run in the third period to grab the lead, 56-54.
But things changed the moment Petron’s guns went ablaze.
Lutz had two triples in a crippling 16-2 counterattack by the Boosters, who posted a 69-57 lead before the start of the payoff fourth quarter.
“Hindi mahinang team ang Barako. Marami silang beteranong players kaya kailangan maghanda ang ibang teams sa kanila,” added Agustin.
The Energy, which was only assembled about a month ago, struggled in its execution.
One of its rookies, former SMART-Gilas Pilipinas wingman Dylan Ababou, wasn’t fielded in the game.
Barako Bull board governor Manny Alvarez said that it was mere coach’s decision, amid speculation that there is a trade in the offing.
“He just joined us recently from Wuhan. There were a lot of speculations regarding us trading him, but there’s no truth to that. He just need to fits himself to the team’s system first,” Alvarez told InterAKTV in a telephone interview.
Barako Bull assistant coach Bong Ramos also pointed to the team’s crowded swingman rotation.
“Maganda rin kasi nilaro ni [Allein] Maliksi, tapos meron pa kaming Leo Najorda, then may Sunday Salvacion pa kami, kaya hindi rin siya nabigyan ng minutes,” said Ramos. “Pero gagamitin naming siya sa mga susunod na games and hindi totoong bibitawan namin siya.”
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