Monfort outplays Tenorio as Barako tops Ginebra; Japeth injured

Diminutive Eman Monfort continues to come up big for Barako Bull.

Standing a mere 5-foot-6, the rookie playmaker stood tallest again Friday night, powering the Energy Cola to an emphatic 104-91 victory against Barangay Ginebra San Miguel that gave them a share of the lead in the PBA Governors Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

Import Mike Singletary dished out another solid outing of 38 points and 17 rebounds but it was Monfort who anchored the team’s big second half surge, pumping in 15 of his career-high 25 points, spiked by five triples, as Barako Bull notched its third straight win against a lone loss to tie idle Petron Blaze at the top of the 10-team field.

More importantly, Monfort also outplayed fellow Atenean and Gilas Pilipinas standout LA Tenorio, who groped for form with just four points following a 34-point explosion in the Gin Kings’ 98-85 win over the Meralco Bolts last Saturday.

Import Dior Lowhorn pumped in 30 points on top of nine rebounds while three other teammates added at least 11 markers but the Gin Kings crumbled in the face of the Energy’s 35-point explosion in the third canto led by Monfort and Singletary.

Ginebra, leaning mainly on its locals, pulled within 80-87 midway in the fourth but eventually fell to 1-2, no thanks to Monfort’s steady plays in the stretch.

The Gin Kings also dealt with the early absence of high-leaping forward Japeth Aguilar, who twisted his right knee on a bad fall following an inside incursion against Singletary and Energy center Mick Pennisi in the first canto.

Earlier, Mario West exploded with a career-best 47 points as the Bolts outgunned the reloaded Talk ‘N Text crew in the fourth canto for a morale-boosting 92-86 win.

Limited to just 21 markers the last time out, West sizzled in the payoff canto with 18 and anchored the Bolts’ methodical windup en route to their second win in four starts, sharing the fourth spot with idle Rain or Shine.

Three Gilas players, Jayson Castro, Larry Fonacier and Ranidel De Ocampo, finally suited up but the Texters still dropped their second assignment in three starts.
 
The Main Man: Pitted against one of the league’s finest playmakers, Eman Monfort certainly made a good account of himself.

The 5-foot-8 guard outshone counterpart LA Tenorio and provided the spark in the Energy’s jarring third quarter charge, drilling in 12 points including a pair of triples that enabled them to enjoy as high as a 19-point lead.

The Gin Kings came charging back in the fourth but Monfort racked up five straight markers in the Energy’s telling 9-2 run.
 
Honorable Mention: He is regarded as a role player but import Mike Singletary continues to lead Barako Bull on all fronts.

The former Texas Tech standout flourished anew with a team-high 37 points on top of 17 rebounds, four assists, two steals and as many blocks in 40 minutes of action.
 
Game Turning Point: Ginebra trailed by as many as 83-64 late in the third canto but roared back behind its local crew, uncorking a 13-2 capped by a completed three-point play from LA Tenorio to pull within seven.

The Energy, however, remained composed, with Monfort scoring five of the next 11 points that restored their lead to 96-82 going to the last four minutes.
 
They Said It:
 
Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio: “The best way to compete with a star-studded team is through defense and I think we did a good enough job on that. We finally broke their zone defense in the second half. I thought that was the key. In the end I told them to continue to find ways to win, challenge every shot Mitchell takes."
 
Barako Bull active team consultant Rajko Toroman: “Eman played one of his best games. He was really crucial and was a big factor for our team. We did well in the pre-season and we’re showing that we’re really a competitive team. We had some problem in the beginning of the fourth. The rest, we were in full control. We can expect a lot from Barako.”

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