PETRON Blaze finally lived up to its high tournament billing as it blasted defending champion San Mig Coffee, 98-73, in the main game of Wednesday night’s PBA Commissioner’s Cup double-header at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Drawing the energy and hustle from import Renaldo Balkman, the Boosters turned a six-point advantage into a sizeable 26-point halftime bubble as their defense held the Mixers to just 22 points on 29.4 percent shooting in the first 24 minutes of play.
There was no let-up from there for the Boosters, who tore apart San Mig's defense both from inside and outside to hand the defending champions their second successive defeat.
Petron, which dropped a heartbreaking 92-94 loss to Globalport in the kick-off game of the mid-season conference, drew 28 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and two blocks from Balkman.
“It’s a good bounce-back win for us after that frustrating game against Globalport,” said Petyron rookie coach Olsen Racela.
“Actually, it’s (a win) more for Rey Balkman. He put up good numbers. But more than that, it was his energy, hustle and intensity. That was the big factor that led to this win,” added Racela.
Racela said he has been challenging his boys to have the defensive mind-set all the time this conference, knowing that defense wins championships.
“Depensa naman talaga. Iyan din ang hinahanap namin kay Rey Balkman. It’s his defense. Pati si Ronald Tubid, coming off the bench, plus the other guys,” said the 41-year-old Petron mentor.
"You saw Jay Washington chasing James Yap. Then, Arwind Santos had his turn. Yun ang sinasabi namin sa kanila eh, depensa muna bago ang opensa."
San Mig import Matt Rogers, who missed the Barako Bull game due to food poisoning, had a quiet game of 20 points on seven-of-19 shooting, along with nine rebounds in a forgettable debut.
James Yap led the struggling Mixers with 25 points.
Petron 98 - Balkman 28, Wasington 17, Cabagnot 15, Lassiter 9, Fajardo 8, Miranda 8, Santos 7, Tubid 4, Faundo 2, Lanete 0, Pena 0
San Mig Coffee 73 - Yap 25, Rogers 20, Simon 8, Devance 7, Pingris 7, Najorda 3, Barroca 2, Mallari 1, Alvarez 0, Reavis 0, De Ocampo 0
Quarterscores: 20-14, 48-22, 70-49, 98-73