|Petron's Renaldo Balkaman (C) tests Barako Bull's defense. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines - (UPDATE 2) Petron Blaze played A-1 basketball on both ends on its return from a poor shooting night Friday and the Boosters sustained their winning streak with a 91-78 whipping of former coach Rajko Toroman and his new team Barako Bull in the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last night.
After making only 60 points (the team’s lowest in a game in 12 years) on 32 percent shooting against Air21, the Boosters came back on an attack mode, particularly import Renaldo Balkman who poured in 33 points to lead the team to a fifth straight win following a losing conference debut to Globalport.
Arwind Santos, Ronald Tubid and Junmar Fajardo also scored in double figures and Petron hit at a 41.4-percent clip in dominating the Barako Bull side that went down with its third loss against the same number of wins.
The Boosters set the pace throughout, leading by as many as 25 points at 66-41 on back-to-back three-pointers by Santos and Jay Washington late in the third quarter.
Barako Bull import Evan Brock scored 12 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter with Sean Anthony and Mark Macapagal combining for the same production as the Energy Cola made the game a little close in the end.
Despite their big lead, Petron coach Olsen Racela still pushed his team till the latter part of the lopsided game.
"I'm still not yet used to the feeling of coaching. When you're a coach, a 20-point lead is not enough. As a player, there's the tendency to relax a little. As a coach, you still want your team to defend properly and run smoothly," said Racela.
Balkman was all business to the finish, collecting 14 points, four assists, four steals and one block on top of his 33 points – his second best output in the local pro league.
"He's been our catalyst and leader especially on defense. His intensity and energy rub off on his teammates," said Racela of the former New York Knick and Denver Nugget.
"That's how I am. I play every game as if it's the last," said the prolific Puerto Rican player, the tourney's leading scorer.
A crowd-pleaser, Balkman went 14-of-24 from the field, including couples of rim-rattling jams.
For the second straight game, Bruno Sundov sat out long minutes and failed to finish the game due to fouls but Rain or Shine squeezed through, this time nipping Barangay Ginebra, 96-93.
"It's just a tribute and credit to the locals for stepping up and working hard to make up for the minutes our import wasn't able to play," said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao.
The Elasto Painters stayed close behind the leaders at 4-1 while the Kings fell deeper down the leaderboard at 1-5.