Monday, December 5, 2011

B-meg Llamados Stretches Winning Streak to 7, Survives Against Barako Bull

The quarterfinals of the PBA Philippine Cup won’t start until Dec. 14 but already the B-Meg Llamados are playing like a playoff team.

The Llamados dominated Barako Bull for most part of the game but had to summon their championship experience and poise in the closing minutes to weather a fiery charge by the Energy and escape with a 91-90 victory on Saturday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

Rookie Mark Baroca sealed B-Meg’s seventh consecutive win,. driving past Barako Bull guard Wynne Arboleda then scoring the marginal basket – a lay-up – off Mick Pennisi and fellow rookie Dylan Ababou with 4.9 seconds remaining. He was fouled on that play but missed the bonus free throw.

“Mark is a gutsy player. He doesn’t fear the wrath of coach. He does what he has to. He does the things that are good and 99 percent of times he’s right,” B-Meg coach Tim Cone said of Barroca, who showed the way for the Llamados with 18 points. The Energy had a chance to win the game but Willie Miller’s desperate 3-point shot over Rafi Reavis bounced off the rim as time expired.

That Barako Bull nearly turn the game around down the stretch caught the crowd by surprise.

B-Meg got off to strong start with excellent shooting that worked almost flawlessly until the third quarter. And the Energy, who appeared overmatched, seemed headed for a blowout loss when Yancy de Ocampo made a basket that gave the Llamado’s their biggest lead at 78-62 with nine minutes remaining in the game. “We made the game a lot more exciting than we should have. We’re not doing the little things anymore in the fourth. I don’t know if we got tired or we started playing lazy on defense. We fouled a lot, they got the momentum and turned the game around,” said Cone, recapping how they squandered the big lead and nearly lost the game in the end. “We were fortunate, honestly, to win that.”

But he also revealed that he left his team on their own especially at the time when they were making mistakes one after the other.

“I wanted our guys to work through it. I left it in their hands to win it, to withstand the storm on their own,” he explained.

James Yap scored 15 points, PJ Simon had 13 while Joe Devance and Kerby Raymundo added 12 apiece for B-Meg, which improved to 9-4 and remained in contention for one of the coveted top two spots that means a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals.

“Its good to see that we could still win without James having an absolutely great game. That’s good for us,” Cone said. Willie Miller led Barako Bull with 25 points. Danny Seigle, displaying the form that made him one of the league’s top gunner, collected 12 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, including eight straight that pulled Barako Bull within 86-87 with `1:33 left.

After James Yap made two free throws to make it a three-point game, Seigle scored on a baseline drive off Devance before Miller knocked a key-hole jumper over James Yap to put the Energy ahead, 90-89 with 13.7 second left. After a time out, B-Meg worked the ball to PJ Simon, but he couldn’t get a shot off so he passed off to Barroca who desperately attacked the lane. Barako Bull fell to 6-6 on the night Raymundo, Arboleda and Miller made great leaps in their respective careers.

Raymundo added another feather to his cap by becoming the 41st player in league history and fourth this conference to collar at least 1,000 rebounds. He accomplished the feat with 7:46 remaining in the third by rebounding a miss by James Yap.

Arboleda and Miller also had a great night. Arboleda moved past Willie Generalao to eighth spot in the all-time career steals list with 640. He recorded the milestone with 5:02 left in the first quarter. Miller on the other hand, became the seventh player in the league with at least 700 3-points. He joined the club by knocking one with 3:23 to go in the second quarter. Then in the fourth quarter he made a steal with 4:29 to play to become the 20th member of the 500 steals club. (Dave Coros)

The scores:

B-MEG 91 - Barroca 18, Yap J. 15, Simon 13, De Vance 12, Raymundo 12, Reavis 7, Urbiztondo 6, De Ocampo 6, Yap R. 2, Pingris 0.

BARAKO BULL 90 - Miller 25, Seigle 22, Pena 11, Ababou 10, Najorda 8, Pennisi 7, Gatumbato 3, Allado 2, Arboleda 2, Artadi 0, Salvacion 0.
Quarterscores: 18-18, 45-33, 72-59, 91-90

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