MANILA, Philippines - (UPDATED) Petron Blaze is off running again.
Revved up by a win the last time out and the return of Junmar Fajardo, the Boosters zoomed to their second straight victory, scoring a 110-81 rout of the Globalport Batang Pier and enhancing their playoff bid in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last night.
The Boosters stepped up even more following their 96-86 win over the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters last Wednesday, overpowering the Batang Pier with a near-impeccable game that improved their win-loss record to 5-6.
"It was a combination of a lot of things. We caught Globalport in its worst game in the season. And it so happened we had much luck on the offensive end," said Petron coach Olsen Racela on their 29-point rout – the most lopsided win by any team in the season.
"We're expecting a close fight especially with (Gary) David coming off 21-point fourth-quarter explosion in their last game. They'd been playing well and just losing at endgame. That's why I'm surprised with the big margin," Racela also said.
Up against the Petron team running on all cylinders, Globalport hardly got into the game and reeled to its sixth straight loss and ninth in 10 games overall.
Returning from a seven-game layoff, Fajardo had considerable contribution, including his intimidating presence in the shaded lane.
"Junmar was a big addition since Danny I (Ildefonso) didn't play. It's obvious, he's still lacking the energy and the legs but you can see the big difference when he's inside. His presence defensively was huge," said Racela of their prized rookie who came through with 14 points, seven rebounds, one steal and one block in 25 minutes of action.
Inspired by Fajardo's return, the Boosters played heads-up game, leading by as many as 33 points in their wire-to-wire victory.
Chris Lutz topscored with 22 points coming off the bench while Arwind Santos sustained his streak of double-double games, churning out his eighth with 20 markers and 13 boards.
Mark Caguioa, turning 33 today, gave himself a good advanced birthday present, firing 13 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter to lead Barangay Ginebra to a pulsating 96-93 win over Alaska Milk in the other game.
The Kings made it three in a row and hit the .500 mark with five wins against the same number of losses.
The Aces, on the other hand, suffered a fourth straight loss and slid to joint sixth with the Petron Boosters at 5-6.
Alaska ace rookie Calvin Abueva missed the game as he's confined in a hospital for an injury sustained on Rob Reyes' flagrant foul in their recent game.
Marcio Lassiter and Jay Washington contributed double-digit numbers for the Boosters who made it two in a row in a big turnaround from a three-game skid.
"When we're on our losing streak, we had realistic approach – get to the playoff first and work our way up. Right now, our concentration is Barako Bull. We want to beat teams below us. We'll really try to make the playoffs then go for placing," said Racela.
The Boosters didn't give the Batang Pier a chance, burying them in a 24-point hole, 58-34, at the half.
Fajardo and his teammates hit at a high 53.2-percent clip and were as mean on the defensive end, keeping Globalport’s main men in check throughout the game.
Willie Miller, the league second-best scorer with an average of 20.2 points before the game, was held to six markers.
David, who sizzled with 27 point versus Ginebra in their most recent game, struggled for 10.