Petron trips GlobalPort, cruises to eighth straight win

Sloppy and all, Petron Blaze continues to gather steam heading into the playoffs.

Drawing another balanced offensive attack led by import Elijah Millsap, the Boosters thumped the GlobalPort Batang Pier Sunday night with a 101-90 victory and capped their eliminations campaign in the PBA Governors Cup on a high note at the Cuneta Astrodome.

The 6-foot-5 Millsap sustained his razor-sharp form as he registered an impressive triple-double performance of 18 points, 15 rebounds, and 10 assists while four other teammates scattered at least 12 markers as Petron Blaze booked its eight straight victory after dropping its opening game against Meralco nearly a month ago.

Guard Marcio Lassiter, coming off the bench, was the top local scorer with 18 points, built around four triples, and helped the Boosters turned a close encounter into an easy cruise behind a late-explosion in the third canto.

The Batang Pier, who got 26 points and nine boards from import Markeith Cummings, dropped to eight spot with a 3-5 mark.

Former Booster Jay Washington, traded for rookie Jason Deutchmann prior to the start of the conference, struggled from the field by making just four of his 15 attempts and went on to finish with 11 markers.

Earlier, Meralco formally clinched a quarterfinals berth with a 100-91 victory against Air21.

Import Mario West topscored with 29 points while forward Cliff Hodge banged in a double-double of 24 markers and 13 rebounds as the Bolts bounced back from a painful 79-91 defeat against GlobalPort and improved to 5-3 overall, tying idle San Mig Coffee at the second spot.

Reinforcement Zach Graham’s 22 points led three other teammates with at least 10 but the Express dropped further to the cellar with their sixth loss against two wins, moving to the brink of missing the playoffs.
 
The Main Man: Indeed, Elijah Millsap is good as advertised.

The Alabama-Birmingham standout dished out a solid all-round performance of 18 points, 15 rebounds, and 10 assists that proved enough to offset his game-high 10 turnovers.

The younger brother of Atlanta Hawks forward Paul also took the backseat offensively in the payoff canto and let his local teammates put the finishing touches.
 
Honorable Mentions: Marcio Lassiter is fast becoming the league’s “Super Sub.”

Coming off the bench, the 6-foot-2 Cal State Fullerton standout drilled in four triples and went on to finish with 18 points while sparking the team’s decisive run in the third canto.

Forward Arwind Santos also finished with a double-double of 15 markers and 11 rebounds while trying to make life difficult on former teammate Jay Washington throughout.  
 
Game Turning Point: Ahead by just 63-59 midway in the third canto, Petron stepped on the gas and, behind the likes of Elijah Millsap and Marcio Lassiter, scored 15 of the next 17 points to take a hefty 78-61 going into the last 12 minutes.

The Batang Pier, courtesy of a Jay Washington split, pulled to within 77-86 before Santos ignited the Boosters’ 12-5 surge that virtually put the result beyond doubt going into the last 2:04 of play.
 
They Said It:
Meralco coach Ryan Gergorio: “This is one important win for us. We were derailed the last time but we found ways to win today. Hopefully, we can end up with one of the top four slots to gain advantage going to the playoffs. But this is my primary concern since a win propels us closer to the top four while a loss would complicate our conference.”
 
Petron Blaze coach Gee Abanilla: “Para sa amin, we try to make an image for ourselves no matter what the situation is. We have to play a certain way, a certain identity. Right now, we are more of character-building for our team. We are giving all out effort. Mas na-aappreciate ng mga bata ‘yun. Two days day off muna. We have to handle our break properly and that's a concern.”
 
The scores:
 
First Game
Meralco (100)
– West 29, Hodge 24,  Cortez 17, Cardona 7, Wilson 6, Salvacion 5, Reyes 4, Hugnatan 4, Ross 2, Timberlake 2, Guevarra 0, Allado 0.

Air 21 (91) – Graham 22, Canaleta 15, Taulava 14, Custodio 10, Manuel 9, Yeo 9, Ritualo 6, Sharma 4, Atkins 2, Salamat 0, Menor 0, Burtscher 0.
Quarterscores: 24-17, 45-41, 77-66, 100-91.
 
Second Game
Petron (101) –
Millsap 18, Lassiter 18, Santos 15, Fajardo 13, Cabagnot 12, Kramer 8, Lutz 7, Lanete 5, Deutchman 3, Tubid 2.

GlobalPort (90) – Cummings 26, Mercado 14, Washington 11, David 11, Taha 6, Nabong 5, Salvador 5, Lingganay 4, Mandani 3, Miller 3, Thiele 2, Belencion 0.
Quarters: 26-23, 54-50, 78-61, 101-90.

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