Tim Cone brought his triangle offense to the B-MEG Llamados, but with all the complexities of the triangle, the execution from the players was expectedly far from perfect.
Petron Blaze seized the opportunity and chalked up an early win with a 73-69 victory over its sister team in the main game of the PBA Philippine Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Rookie Chris Lutz unloaded 15 of his 19 points in the second half in a strong debut performance while Alex Cabagnot provided the strong finish, scoring seven of his team’s last nine points as the cohesive Boosters pulled off a win against a team in the midst of a tough learning curve.
B-MEG, which paraded a superior lineup against the depleted Boosters, struggled heavily with their offense and Petron mentor Ato Agustin was quick to pounce on them.
“Hindi easy talunin ang B-MEG dahil powerhouse ang line up nila, pero hilaw pa yung Triangle Offense nila, so we took advantage of it,” said Agustin.
B-MEG fans packed the Astrodome to watch their team play under the multi-titled Cone for the first time. And the Llamados jumped to a start that did not disappoint as they built on early leads as high as nine points.
But as the Petron defense tightened up, the Llamados were forced to rely on the several variations of their offense, which the players were less familiar with.
“We adjusted in the second quarter on our defense and we did that until the last two possessions when we stopped B-MEG. It was also because of defense why we won the title last conference,” added Agustin.
Lutz and Cabagnot ignited the Boosters’ endgame flurry.
Cabagnot ‘s go-ahead triple put the Boosters on top, 66-64, with about three minutes left in the game but a Kerby Raymundo three-point play off of Arwind Santos put B-MEG back on the driver’s seat.
But Lutz responded with a three-point play of his own against former SMART-Gilas Pliipinas teammate Mark Barroca, igniting a 7-0 run for the Boosters.
Cabagnot sealed the game with two free throws that gave them a 73-67 lead with less than a minute to play.
Lutz’s performance was among some of the best of debuting players in the PBA, drawing comparisons to fellow rookie Paul Lee, who posted 21 points, alongside eight assists, in his first game against Brgy Ginebra last Sunday.
PJ Simon led the Llamados with 21 points, but James Yap and Kerby Raymundo, the leaders of the squad, struggled, finishing with just 10 points apiece.
Petron (73) – Lutz 19, Cabagnot 17, Santos 11, Miranda 8, Sharma 6, Ildefonso 5, Guevarra 3, Agustin 2, Yeo 2, Baclao 0, Hontiveros 0.
B-MEG (69) – Simon 21, Yap, J. 10, Raymundo 10, Devance 9, Yap, R. 9, Ferriols 4, Barroca 2, Reavis 2, Maierhofer 1, Pingris 1, Urbiztondo 0.
Quarterscores: 13-22; 36-38; 58-54; 73-69.