IMPORT Herve Lamizana came alive in the second half, while Mark Borboran had a crucial steal and two pressure-packed free throws down the stretch as Air21 subdued Globalport, 83-78, and spoiled the PBA coaching debut of Pido Jarencio at the start of the Commissioner’s Cup on Wednesday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The 33-year-old Lamizana exploded for 20 of his 22 points in the final 24 minutes to make up for an anemic first half. He also added 10 rebounds and had five block shots, the last of which came at the expense of a driving Globalport import Evan Brock just when the Batang Pier were trailing, 79-78.
Borboran, meanwhile, sank two free throws and then stripped Mark Macapagal of the basketball to preserve the hard-earned win for the Express.
“It’s a good thing in the second half, our import stepped up his game. I was kind of hard at him at halftime, so I told him that this is an import-laden conference so the import should take over,” Air21 coach Franz Pumaren said after the game.
The 6-foot-9 Lamizana took the cue from there, taking charge in a scorching third quarter effort that saw him score 16 of Air21’s 26 points to turn a five-point halftime deficit into a 66-56 lead entering the final quarter.
The Batang Pier crawled their way back in the final period and managed to grab the upperhand at 78-77 on a split from the free throw line by Brock.
But they failed to convert on their last five attempts inside the final minute that hastened their downfall.
Joseph Yeo added 21 points for the Express, while Asi Taulava and Macmac Cardona chipped in 14 and 11, respectively.
Brock led the Batang Pier with a 20-20 effort, finishing with 28 points and 26 rebounds.
New recruit Alex Cabagnot debuted for Globalport with four points, four rebounds, and eight assists.
Air21 (83) - Lamizana 22, Yeo 21, Taulava 14, Cardona 11, Borboran 6, Villanueva 4, Burtscher 2, Sharma 2, Jaime 0, Poligrates 0, Matias 0, Camson 0, Manuel 0.
Globalport (78) - Brock 28, Chua 10, Washington 9, Macapagal 8, Custodio 8, Cabagnot 4, Garcia 4, Romeo 3, Yee 2, Salva 2, Nabong 0, Ponferada 0, Salvador 0.
Quarterscores: 22-14; 40-45; 66-56; 83-78.