BARAKO Bull relied on the old, steady hands of veteran Dennis Miranda and the steely nerves of sophomore playmaker RR Garcia as the Energy completed an 85-78 win to deal Alaska its first loss of the PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The six-foot Miranda, the team’s leading scorer this season, pumped in 21 points including a clutch 20-foot jumper with under one minute to play while Garcia sealed one of the biggest upsets of the season with a fastbreak layup that doused cold water on an Alaska fightback.
Resurgent Barako Bull, which opened the season with five straight losses, improved to 2-5 overall, reviving its playoff bid in the season-opening conference.
On the other hand, the Aces’ first loss in seven games spoiled the return of veteran center Sonny Thoss, who sat out the team's past three games due to a foot injury.
“They (Energy) came out ready to play. We did not do something extraordinary with regards to the game plan,” said Barako Bull coach Koy Banal.
“We just made sure we stayed focused and stayed sharp all throughout the game because Alaska has a non-stop brand of basketball, saka up-tempo sila,” he added
The soft-spoken Banal also credited Miranda and fellow veterans Mick Pennisi, Willy Wilson and Chico Lanete for serving as the “glue guys” of the Energy during their poor start this season.
“We have Denok Miranda at 'yung energy niya, not only dun inside the floor but most especially off the court. Yung leadership niya, together with Mick,” said the Barako coach.
“I appreciate their help sa akin, si Willy Wilson, Chico. Everybody is contributing para mabuo kami.”
Miranda, who is averaging a career-high 14.3 points this season, shot 4-of-5 from the three-point zone while adding three assists, two rebounds and a steal in 30 minutes.
Garcia, on the other hand, chipped in 18 points while rookie Jake Pascual narrowly missed a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds.
Meantime, Calvin Abueva registered his fifth double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds in a losing effort for Alaska.
Vic Manuel added 15, while JV Casio added 13.
Thoss, the 6-7 big man, finished with just two points and two rebounds in his return from a foot injury.
Barako Bull 85 - Miranda 21, Garcia 18, Pascual 12, Lanete 10, Intal 8, Lastimosa 7, Wilson 6, Hubalde 2, Pennisi 1, Salvador 0, Salva 0, Marcelo 0, Paredes 0.
Alaska 78 - Abueva 16, Manuel 15, Casio 13, Hontiveros 8, Jazul 8, Menk 5, Banchero 4, Exciminiano 4, Baguio 3, Thoss 2, Eman 0, Dela Rosa 0, Bugia 0, Dela Cruz 0.
Quarterscores: 20-18, 49-31, 65-54, 85-78