ANTIPOLO—Alex Cabagnot sizzled from afar and Arwind Santos was brilliant on both ends for Petron Blaze yet again as the Boosters ripped Barako Bull, 95-83, for a 2-0 record and the solo lead in the PBA Philippine at the Ynares Center.
Cabagnot drained 6-of-11 triple attempts and finished with 22 points while quarterbacking the Petron offense with great effect as the Boosters roared to an impressive start which coach Ato Agustin later said he didn’t expect.
“I didn’t expect a 2-0 start because we are still adjusting,” Agustin said in Filipino. “We moved the ball better in the fourth quarter and played with total team effort which proved to be the key.”
In the second game, a fired-up Japeth Aguilar made a slam-bang return to the PBA, knocking down 27 points—including a highlight slam to end the first half—as Talk ‘N Text crushed Meralco, 98-80.
“Japeth’s the only Filipino who has that combination of height and athletic ability,” said coach Chot Reyes after the game, the Texters first since having their Grand Slam hopes ripped to shreds by the Boosters.
Petron, which continued to miss superstar center Jay Washington, actually threw away a 13-point second quarter lead to even trail, 54-56, after a Paul Artadi basket sometime in the third period before dropping a telling 15-1 bomb that restored order in its favor.
It was indeed a superb follow-up to a defense-oriented 73-69 decision of sister squad B-Meg just two nights before as the Boosters showed their offensive might with five players finishing in twin digits.
Santos finished with 19 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. He shot 11 of his total in the fourth period.
Rookie Chris Lutz scored 11 of his 17 points in the third period aside from finishing with seven assists and six steals in a 40-minute job. After two games, the former Smart Gilas mainstay Lutz is averaging 35 minutes a contest and is averaging 18 points.
Carlo Sharma, after a disappointing debut as a Booster on Wednesday, scattered 15 points, while Danny Ildefonso accounted for 11 that went with 13 rebounds.
Mick Pennisi, a part of the old Barako Bull team that was a force for several years before it lost its major players because of financial difficulties, paced the Energy with 16 points with rookie Alein Maliksi shooting 15.
“We always emphasize our defense,” said Agustin. “Every time we play, we make it a point to play tough defense.”
PETRON 95—Cabagnot 22, Santos 19, Lutz 17, Sharma 15, Ildefonso 11, Yeo 5, Baclao 4, Miranda 2, Agustin 0, Guevarra 0.
BARAKO BULL 83—Pennisi 16, Maliksi 15, Salvacion 11, Najorda 10, Salvador 8, Miller 8, Seigle 5, Artadi 4, Avenido 2, Allado 2, Pena 2, Arboleda 0.
Quarters: 26-20, 47-37, 73-64, 95-83
TALK ‘N TEXT 98—Aguilar 27, Castro 14, Dillinger 11, Carey 11, Aban 8, Raymundo 6, Reyes 6, Fonacier 6, Peek 4, Waters 2, Membrere 2, Alvarez 1, Lao 0.
MERALCO 80—Espinas 20, Lanete 13, Timberlake 10, Yee 9, Omolon 8, Taulava 8, Bulawan 5, Macapagal 4, Cardona 2, Ballesteros 1, Faundo 0, Borboran 0, Isip 0.
Quarters: 22-22, 47-28, 75-52, 98-80
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