6:45 p.m. -- Powerade vs. Meralco
Time and time again, prolific Gary David has bailed out the Powerade Tigers. But when David suffered an ill-timed left ankle sprain Tuesday night, it was the perfect time for sweet-shooting Josh Vanlandingham to prove his genuine worth.
Ably filling up the big shoes left by David, Vanlandingham came up big in the second half as the stubborn Tigers turned back Barako Bull, 99-95, to keep their flickering semis hopes alive in the PBA Governors Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The southpaw Vanlandingham came off the bench and fired 18 points, 12 coming in the last 24 minutes of play, laced by four treys and as many boards while burly import Omar Sneed went two assists shy of a triple-double with 24 points, 15 rebounds, eight feeds and five steals.
Those commendable exploits, well-complemented by the other Tigers, enabled Powerade, loser of its last three games in the eliminations, to forge another do-or-die match for the sixth and final semis spot against Meralco Bolts on Wednesday night.
Sean Anthony, Rey Guevarra and JVee Casio had 10 points apiece for the Tigers.
"I really have to take my hats off to Josh. He made things happen for us. He's the catalyst in this game," noted Powerade coach Bo Perasol.David, who fired all of his 13 points in the first quarter, did not see action in the second half but the rest of the Tigers, sparked by Vanlandingham, got the job done.
"Earlier, I had mixed feeling about the absence of David. But at the back of my mind, I know that at any given time, anyone can step up and pick up the cudgels."
And that proved to be Vanlandingham.
While David opted to stay in the dugout, the Tigers, led by Vanlandingham, Sneed, Guevarra and Anthony, showed up with fire in their eyes in the third canto, unleashing a telling 13-2 run that gave them a 65-54 lead as the Energy struggled to keep in step.
The Tigers, who posted a 79-70 heading into the fourth, kept the Energy at bay with timely baskets from unheralded Rudy Lingganay and Vanlandingham while Anthony and Sneed provided the hustle and energy on both ends.
Courtesy of Willie Miller's three straight charities, the Energy pulled to within 85-91 with less than five minutes left but Vanlandingham drained another back-breaking jumper that clearly took the fight away from the stunned Barako Bull side.
"When I knew Gary won't be able to play in the second half, I talked to Rey and said 'That this is our time and we needed to step up'," disclosed Vanlandingham."Mas kinakabahan ako manood kesa maglaro," noted David, who closely watched the waning moments from the hallway leading to the teams' dug-out rooms.
Despite his injury, David is bent on playing against the Bolts, saying: "Kung may paraan, maglalaro ako bukas. Mid-foot arthritis sabi ng doctor pero playable naman."
LeRoy Hickerson finished with 20 points while Danny Seigle also had 20 markers for the Energy.
POWERADE 99 - Sneed 24, Vanlandingham 18, David 13, Anthony 10, Guevarra 10, Casio 10, Lingganay 7, Salvador 4, Belasco 2, Tugade 1, Adducul 0.
BARAKO BULL 95 - Hickerson 20, Seigle 20, Kramer 14, Miller 10, Tubid 9, Pennisi 8, Cruz 7, Allado 7, Vergara 0, Salvacion 0.
Quarters: 28-26, 52-52, 79-70, 99-95