THE prospect of another Petron Blaze player being sidelined for a longer time looms, so coach Ato Agustin was quick in giving advise to Arwind Santos in the course of their game against Shopinas.com Sunday. “Ang sabi ko sa kanya, ‘Just continue playing hard, pero di dapat mag-relax,’” related Agustin. “Kasi kapag naging relaxed ang laro ng isang player at tulad niyang talon ng talon mas malamang na mag-suffer naman ng groin injury.”
Santos took heed and tapered off a bit, but was still one of the major factors in the Boosters’ cruising 98-87 victory over the Clickers in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Santos notched 16 points and 21 rebounds, with only two points and no rebounds coming in the fourth period, and three teammates had at least 12 points as Petron racked up its third straight victory to break out of its tie with idle Talk ‘N Text and vault into the solo lead. Denok Miranda scored a team-high 18 points, Chris Lutz added 17 and Joseph Yeo 12. Alex Cabagnot only scored nine, but he issued as many assists.
Yeo also scored 10 of his points in the second half that saw the Boosters buckle down to serious business and completely dominate the hapless Clickers to the tune of as much as a 94-73 lead.
The victory also came on the heels of a report the injury that struck Hontiveros in Petron’s first game and has sidelined him since may turn out to be a feared torn anterior cruciate ligament on his right knee.
“Pinapag-work out namin siya at mukhang okay naman, pero may pain kaya ipina-MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) siya. Baka ACL kasi ang laki ng bukol,” said Agustin.
It seems the remaining Boosters are still up to the task, especially Santos.
Santos’ rebounds were the most by a local player since he himself tallied 27 in a loss to Rain or Shine last June 24 in the last season-ending Governors Cup which the Boosters ultimately won against Talk ‘N Text.
It was also the seventh straight double-double in all by Santos, more than making up for the continued absence of Rabeh Al-Hussaini, Jay Washington, Lordy Tugade and Dondon Hontiveros. It was the third straight loss by Shopinas in as many games, notwithstanding the new career-high 22 points posted by Jojo Duncil and the double-digits chipped in by RJ Jazul, Paolo Hubalde, Ren-Ren Ritualo and James Sena.
Shopinas also moved past Air21 and is now chasing Red Bull for the worst-ever start by a new team. The Thunder started their PBA campaign by dropping their first six games in 2000.
The Clickers actually made a game of it in the first half but seemed to start losing heart when Santos capped a 10-point, 13-rebound half with a halfcourt heave that barely beat the buzzer and banked in to give the Boosters a 51-39 lead.
Sena and Duncil were primary reasons why Shopinas stayed within 52-62, but Lutz scored on back-to-back drives and Alex Cabagnot scored seven of his points in the last 3:22 of the third period to jack Petron’s lead to 79-65.
The ending was a far cry from what Shopinas offered when it kept coming back from early deficits to make a tight game of it until the final 4:02 mark of the second period, when Duncil’s drive pegged a 35-all count. Then Agustin’s son, Marc, a second round pick by Powerade, chipped in six of his career-high nine points in a 13-2 surge to spark Petron’s breakaway. (NC)
The scores: PETRON 98 - Miranda 18, Lutz 17, Santos 16, Yeo 12, Agustin 9, Cabagnot 9, Ildefonso 6, Reyes 5, Baclao 4, Sharma 2, Guevarra 0.
SHOPINAS.COM 87 - Duncil 22, Jazul 12, Hubalde 12, Ritualo 12, Sena 10, Menor 9, Espiritu 4, Se 3, Canlas 2, Canta 1, Ilad 0, Hermida 0, Mirza 0. Quarterscores: 21-15, 51-39, 79-65, 98-87