MANILA---Barangay Ginebra used a torrid start to secure its first win streak in the PBA Philippine Cup eliminations by bringing down defending champion Derby Ace, 93-82 last night at the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.
The Gin Kings opened up with a 15-0 run, bloated the lead later to 30, before holding off the severely undermanned Llamados in a wild finish to improve to 3-2 and shove Derby Ace down in the cellar alone at 1-4.
Mac Cardona scattered 27 points as Meralco earlier snapped the longest losing streak in the young season with an 87-79 decision of erratic Rain or Shine.
Cardona scored 18 points in the final two quarters, including seven in the payoff frame, while Gabby Espinas had eight of his 18 in the fourth as the Bolts won for just the second time to halt a three-game slide.
“They (Llamados) started out flat and we took advantage of it,” Ginebra coach Jong Uichico told reporters. “We just hope to use this (winning) game to get a better flow of our (overall) game.”
Rudy Hatfield scored 14 points and had 12 rebounds and Ronald Tubid also scattered 14 markers for the Kings, whose 24-point third quarter lead proved decisive.
Peter June Simon also had 14 points to pace Derby Ace, which continued to play without big men Rafi Reavis, Marc Pingris and Kerby Raymundo.
The overall point production also suffered as the usually high-scoring James Yap, the reigning MVP, was held down to just eight points, zero in the fourth.
Chris Ross, the Fil-American guard who was the third overall pick by Coca-Cola two seasons ago, showed a glimpse of how good he can be by knocking down three big baskets in the fourth period for the Bolts.
The loss was also the third in five games for the Elasto Painters, who failed to sustain the brilliance of their 95-93 victory over former tournament co-leader Talk ‘N Text last week.
“In our last three losses, we allowed ourselves to just roll over and die,” said Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio, who later in the night received his championship ring with the Derby Ace squad for winning this tournament last year.
“Now we are beginning to adjust to each other’s strengths,” added Gregorio, a winner of three championships with Purefoods/Derby Ace, including two all-Filipino crowns.
“It’s a great feeling to win against a quality team. We believe that we can compete. We believe that we can survive this conference and we’re just going to take it one day at a time.”
The game was close throughout with the count tied for the last time at 73, with 5:59 remaining after the first of two straight Larry Rodriguez baskets.
But Asi Taulava completed a three-point play off Rodriguez and Ross added a bucket which came before Espinas hit a short jumper that made it 80-76 with 3:36 left. Photo by Nuki Sabio.
MERALCO 87—Cardona 27, Espinas 18, Ross 12, Omolon 9, Taulava 8, Menor 6, Belga 6, Aquino 1, Escobal 0.
RAIN OR SHINE 79—Mercado 17, Norwood 15, Kramer 14, Reyes 8, Chan 6, Arana 6, Cruz 5, Rodriguez 4, Tang 2, Ferriols 2, Vanlandingham 0, Jazul 0, Ibanes 0.
Quarters: 20-20, 36-35, 58-57, 87-79
BARANGAY GINEBRA 93—Tubid 14, Hatfield 14, Miller 11, Intal 10, Cortez 9, Villanueva 8, Caguioa 8, Helterbrand 7, Wilson 6, Mamaril 6, Aquino 0.
DERBY ACE 82—Simon 14, Yap R. 12, Villanueva 9, Acuna 8, Gaco 8, Yap J. 8, Maierhofer 7, Salvador 7, Allado 4, Canaleta 3, Adducul 2.
Quarters: 28-11, 47-29, 75-51, 93-82