MANILA, Philippines – Import Michael Dunigan had a double-double and the Air21 Express clamped down on the Barangay Ginebra Kings defensively to win their first game of the PBA Commissioner's Cup, 74-70, Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Dunigan had 26 points and 19 rebounds and outplayed Ginebra import Herbert Hill, who had 17 points and 18 boards but made only seven of his 24 shot attempts.
"It's always a nice feeling beating Ginebra because of their star-studded line-up," Air21 coach Franz Pumaren told the league website. "Man-to-man, I think we're the weakest right now."
"We won this game on the defensive aspect," he stressed.
The Gin Kings made only 28.4% of their field goal attempts, with Hill missing his first 10 shots in the game. Ginebra scored only 21 points in the first half, tying the franchise-low.
But the third quarter was a different story as the Kings outscored the Express 29-17 in the period to take a 50-48 lead going to the final canto.
Dunigan and point guard Mike Cortez finished off the Kings in the fourth period, however.
"Against Ginebra, it's always a battle," said Cortez, who wound up with 13 points, six rebounds and four assists while outplaying Ginebra counterpart LA Tenorio (three points, four rebounds, two assists).
Cortez also sent out a warning to the rest of the league, pointing out that their import has still much to show on the offensive end.
"You've yet to see Michael Dunigan the complete package," Cortez said. "He didn't really dominate offensively tonight, but he's a defensive monster."
"Dunigan was a big factor. He gave us tremendous presence underneath," Pumaren added.
Caguioa topscored for Ginebra with 26 points.
AIR 21 74 - Dunigan 26, Wilson 13, Cortez 13, Reyes 7, Isip 7, Custodio 5, Menor 2, Canaleta 1, Sena 0, Baclao 0, Omolon 0, Ritualo 0, Arboleda 0
GINEBRA 70 - Caguioa 26, Hill 17, Helterbrand 10, Wilson 7, Ellis 3, Tenorio 3, Baracael 2, Mamaril 2, Taha 0, Jensen 0, Maierhofer 0, Hatfield 0
Quarter-scoring: 17-13, 31-21, 48-50, 74-70