Friday, January 24, 2014

PBA Post-Game Summaries: The Second Games

Things have been afire in the PBA 2014 Philippine Cup quarterfinals. In their first outing in a best-of-three series, Petron Blaze Boosters crushed Barako Bull Energy while San Mig Coffee Mixers surged past the Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters. Meanwhile, the Alaska Aces took the first game against Barangay Ginebra, thereby forcing a sudden death match between the two. For its part, Rain or Shine Elasto Painters sent the Globalport Batang Pier packing for their early vacation after routing them in their first and last tiff for the conference.

In this post, I summarize the second games for the teams competing in the best-of-three series (Rain or Shine has already advanced to the semifinals while Ginebra and Alaska have yet to settle the score this coming Sunday).

Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters ties series, 1-1

In the first quarter, TNT's KG Canaleta made his presence felt early in the game with a bucket and a trey. As a team, TNT likewise came out strong in the initial salvo. But in the final minute of the first quarter, San Mig Coffee Mixers' Justin Melton swiped the ball twice, converting with a dime and a bucket of his own to end the quarter with SMC back on top, 21-19. By the start of the second Q, scoring remained close. But after Alex Mallari's triple at 9:33 (which broke the tie at 23 apiece), SMC has been leading the scoreboard, though only by margins less than double-digits. Things began to turn after Mark Pingris and Kelly Williams were slapped with technical fouls at 4:16 on the clock. Danny Seigle's 2FG putback followed by Castro's layup brought the lead back to TNT, 33-32. At halftime, TNT regained the lead, 38-34, with SMC listing only 13 points in the second quarter. Ranidel de Ocampo drained a three at the start of the second half, and after that TNT did not relinquish the lead, ending with a ten-point advantage, 62-52, in the third quarter. In the 4th Q, SMC's Yap, Reavis and Pingris tried to edge closer (as close as six, 66-60, at 6:40 remaining) but Castro and company cushioned their margin anew, 71-60, a minute and a half later. Near the last-two-minute mark, SMC was able to pull within six again, 76-70. SMC's Barroca and TNT's Reyes exchanged triples in the last minute. But TNT held on to the lead until the final buzzer, winning the game at 82-77.

Game changer: Halftime adjustments. At the end of the second quarter, SMC trailed by 4 points from leading early in the second Q. From then on, TNT controlled the game.

Petron Blaze Boosters claims series, sweeps Barako Bull Energy 2-0

The first two quarters folded with both Petron and Barako scoring 52 each. Both squads played neck-and-neck in scoring in the first half. However, in the 2nd Q alone, Barako outrebounded Petron 17 to 10. Petron began to pull away early in the third quarter, with 61-52 at 8:52 remaining. With Maierhofer scoring most of Barako's points, Barako kept within distance in the final minutes of the 3rd Q, eventually settling within seven, 79-72. Barely 7 minutes remaining in the last quarter, Barako's Mick Pennisi received his second technical foul and got ejected from the game. Still, Barako trimmed Petron's margin down to four points at 89-85. For the rest of the 4th Q, Petron retained the lead even if Barako was only within two to three buckets. Winning the game at 107-100, Petron advances to the semifinals. Alex Cabagnot led Petron with 22 points and 12 assists. Maierhofer chipped in with 21 points for Barako, his best offensive performance thus far, but was unable to push Barako to a win.

Game changer: Free throws. In the dying minutes of the last quarter, both teams were already in the penalty. Fouls were being given, and players found themselves in the charity stripe. Maierhofer and Pena's misses from the free throw line could have spelled the difference between a sweep and another shot.

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