MANILA: Grace B. Castillo
Published — Saturday 9 June 2012
Last update 9 June 2012 3:17 am
For Powerade coach Bo Perasol, never mind if they have just won their third straight game.
What’s more gratifying is which team the Tigers have just humbled.
“We defeated the unbeaten team,” Perasol said Friday night, moments after a down-the-wire battle with Rain or Shine resulted in a 104-98 victory that stopped the Elasto Painters’ magical PBA Governors’ Cup run at four games at the Araneta Coliseum.
“It’s definitely doubly satisfying,” Perasol said after getting 30 points from superstar gunslinger Gary David and 24 markers from hard-working import Omar Sneed that helped the Tigers rise to 3-2 overall.
Powerade wrested control in the second quarter and drained some critical shots and got some crucial stops in the stretch to hold off the Painters, who came into the game looking to extend their franchise-best start to a fifth game.
But it wasn’t to be as the Tigers played with poise and maturity to pound out the win in a close endgame.
Despite the loss, the Painters still remained in the lead at 4-1 and could go back to the drawing board, lick their wounds, and plan their next plan of attack with the playoff slot possibly just two victories away.
David hit 20 or more points for the 19th straight game after making 9-of-24 field goal attempts and hitting all of 10 free throws awarded him. And for the leading local scorer of the year, those stats don’t really matter much.
“The important thing for me right now is that I am able to help the team win,” David said in Filipino. “We work hard each and every night and it gives you satisfaction to be able to win in the end.” Jamelle Cornley led the Painters with 31 points and Paul Lee and Jervy Cruz added 15 each, but Rain or Shine lost a grip of the game in the second quarter by trailing by as many as 13 and evidently ran out of steam in the end.
Powerade actually caught powerhouse Petron Blaze in a third place tie at 3-2 after the Boosters, who blew a 14-point lead in the first half, fell to Barako Bull and new import Leroy Hickeron, 111-107, earlier in the night. Hickerson finished with 33 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, great, great numbers especially if one would consider the things he went through hours before his first game back in the PBA since playing for Air21 in 2010.
After a 36-hour flight from Louisville, Kentucky and arriving at 6 in the morning, Hickerson went straight to the Barako Bull practice to see some plays, shot the ball for a few minutes before heading straight to the Games and Amusements Board for his playing license and then to the league offices to have his height measured.
And with literally no rest, he went straight to the Big Dome to suit up and deliver those astonishing numbers.
What’s even more impressive is that he hadn’t touched a basketball for more than a month after finishing his commitment in the Venezuelan pro league.
“I’m tired, but it’s good to play for a team that showed a lot of heart,” said Hickerson.
Willie Miller and Ronald Tubid were also big, combining for 20 points in the fourth period with Tubid connecting on a breakaway layup with 33 seconds left that gave the Energy the lead to stay, 109-107.
Miller, the former two-time MVP, forged the first deadlock since early in the first period when he scored on a reverse lay-up with 58 seconds to go for 107-all.
“We were lucky,” said coach Junnel Baculi, whose squad rose to 2-2, now tied with idle crowd-favorite Barangay Ginebra.
“It’s good that Leroy has played here before and he knows some of the local players on the team,” Baculi said. “He was like a coach on the court. There was a point in the game when he let the locals take over.” B-Meg, meanwhile, got the golden chance to shoot for a share of the lead as a result of the Rain or Shine loss when the Llamados battle Air21 Saturday night in a road game in Digos, Davao del Sur.
The Llamados have a three-game winning streak going and could catch the Painters at the top with a victory in the 6:45 p.m. contest.