|Ginebra's Mike Cortez tries to pass the ball while being defended by B-Meg's James Yap and Mark Pingris. Photo by Marc John Villanueva for ABS-CBNnews.com
ANTIPOLO, Philippines – B-Meg, toughened up by its quarterfinals grind versus Meralco, clobbered a Mark Caguioa-less Barangay Ginebra side, 82-67, at the start of their PBA Commissioner’s Cup best-of-five semifinal duel at the Ynares Sports Center here tonight.
Physically and mentally ready, the Llamados made a big turnaround from a 15-point deficit early on, building 20-point spreads in the fourth quarter and breezing through in what was expected to be a slam bang setto.
The Kings terribly missed the services of injured main man Caguioa, unable to sustain their strong start that saw them lead by 15 at 23-8.
The Llamados, on the other hand, showed their ability to recover then the killer instinct as they pounced on the Kings’ meltdown to draw first blood in the series.
Flagrant fouls committed by Marc Pingris on Enrico Villanueva and by Jackson Vroman on Yancy de Ocampo could be portent of things to come in this interesting playoff matchup.
There’s the physicality even as B-Meg turned the game into a rout, and coach Tim Cone insisted their quarters showdown with Meralco made them ready for Ginebra.
“I really feel our physical game against Meralco prepared us tonight. We’re mentally prepared to play that kind of game,” said Cone.
“Ping (Marc Pingris) is always good at it. Yancy (de Ocampo) also played well in tonight’s physical battle,” Cone added.
The Llamados played well as a team with the starters and the reserves all having their significant contributions.
Getting the wake-up call from their second group, the Llamados went roaring in the second quarter and took the half at 33-29.
Pingris, De Ocampo and PJ Simon ignited their charge from 8-23 down, pulling even at 26-all on a short jumper by James Yap and pulling ahead, 29-26, on a three-pointer by Joe Devance.
The Kings lost their rhythm in the second period, converting only two of 20 attempts for the second worse shooting in a quarter by Ginebra ever.
Vroman himself suddenly turned cold after a hot start, collecting seven points, five rebounds and three assists as the Kings raced to a 21-8 lead in the first quarter.
It was all Ginebra in the final half.
“It’s an interesting first half. They’re No. 1 defense and we’re No. 2. At halftime, I told the guys ‘If we have to bleed for our points, don’t be afraid. That’s the way to win it,’” said Cone.
“We got going in the second half, we started knocking shots then we built a lead. It was a surprising lead and to me that’s the story of the game,” Cone added.
B-MEG 82 - Bowles 21, Simon 13, Devance 9, Yap 9, De Ocampo 9, Urbiztondo 6, Reavis 5, Intal 4, Pingris 4, Villanueva 2, Barroca 0.
GINEBRA 67 - Vroman 10, Labagala 10, Villanueva 8, Hatfield 8, Cortez 7, Canaleta 6, Helterbrand 6, Ababou 5, W. Wilson 4, J. Wilson 2, Raymundo 1, Mamaril 0.
Quarters: 8-21, 33-29, 60-42, 82-67