MANILA, Philippines - Barako Bull’s old warriors displayed their vintage forms as they played without an import for three quarters and topped the Alaska Milk Aces, 103-90, in the opener of their PBA Commissioner’s Cup best-of-three quarterfinals showdown at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last night.
Danny Seigle and the other grizzled Barako veterans assembled a solid game, overcoming early 14-point deficits and winning with plenty to spare despite new import Chukwunike Okosa’s scoreless stint.
Seigle came through with a personal conference high of 21 points, Ronald Tubid got away with three treys and a total of 24 points and Don Allado had a near double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds as the Energy moved to within a game of a return stint in the Commissioner’s Cup Final Four.
“Credit belongs to our veterans. Before the game, I just reminded them that it’s playoff time, and it’s time for them to shine. They did,” said Barako coach Junel Baculi.
“All I needed to do was to remind them because they’re veterans. They’ve been there; they’ve done that. They’re not in good hands; I’m the one in good hands,” Baculi also said.
The Barako players took it upon themselves to step up, knowing their new import would struggle in his debut.
“He has just come in and he’s yet to adjust to our system and the PBA play. It helped that the veterans kept talking with each other in the game. We really helped one another,” said two-time MVP winner Willie Miller.
“We committed a lot of mistakes. Barako is a veteran team, and you can’t afford to commit so much errors against them,” said Alaska coach Joel Banal. “The idea is to stay close with them, and we didn’t do that.”
Tubid, Seigle, Allado, Miller and Leo Najorda took turns in carrying the cudgels for Barako as they rallied from 6-20 down, taking the half at 48-47, seizing control late in the third and sustaining the pace to the finish.
Okosa, a replacement to Rodney White who had to rush home to attend to his ailing father, was hardly a factor as he went scoreless with a 0-of-7 shooting in 11 minutes of action.
He was the first import to fail to score a single basket in a game since Magnolia’s Amal McKaskill in the 2008 Fiesta Conference.
Meralco came out smoking and blasted B-Meg, 103-81, to also move on the threshold of the semifinals in the nightcap.
“This is a first playoff win for us in five conferences. It’s an enormous breakthrough for this franchise,” said Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio.
Barako 103 – Tubid 24, Seigle 21, Allado 16, Miller 14, Najorda 12, Peña 8, Arboleda 6, Gatumbato 2, Okosa 0, Weinstein 0, Pennisi 0.
Alaska 90 – Baguio 20, Tenorio 19, Baracael 18, Parada 11, Thoss 10, Custodio 8, Eman 2, Gonzales 2, Salamat 0, Bugia 0.
Quarterscores: 17-27, 48-47, 79-74, 103-90
Meralco 103 – Barron 34, Cardona 22, Ross 12, Taulava 12, Mercado 10, Macapagal 8, Hugnatan 5, Timberlake 0, Borboran 0.
B-Meg 81 – Yap 21, Bowles 18, Simon 12, Devance 9, Urbiztondo 5, De Ocampo 5, Pingris 4, Barroca 3, Intal 2, Reavis 2, Burtscher 0, Villanueva 0.
Quarterscores: 32-19, 54-38, 77-69, 103-81