BARAKO Bull recovered from a huge third quarter collapse, leaning on the steady hands of import Eric Wise in the endgame to pull off a nailbiting 95-94 victory against a fighting Meralco side to kick off its campaign on a winning note at the start of the PBA Governors Cup on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
It was a huge win for the Energy, who managed to recover in the final period after squandering a 21-point lead, before leaning on the hot hands of Wise in the endgame.
“The best way to describe what we’re trying to do now, is the Chinese adage that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. And hopefully, we could correct something and we can improve,” said Siot Tanquingcen, who made a triumphant return to coaching with the Energy after replacing Bong Ramos last month.
Tanquingcen, a three-time PBA champion coach, served as Barako Bull’s team consultant during the Commissioner’s Cup prior to his return to coaching.
Despite the winning start for a franchise that won just a total of seven games combined during the first two conferences, Tanquingcen knows there's a lot of work to be done.
“Nothing’s gonna be a quick fix, that’s for sure. But it’s good we started with a win,” he added.
“But then, parang buhay, may mga highs and lows.”
Tanquingcen gave credit to Wise, son of former PBA import Francois, who carried the Energy on his broad shoulders.
The stocky Wise, who played for the USC Trojans in college, attacked the Bolts inside with timely baskets inside, allowing the team to mount a searing comebacking from an 11-point fourth quarter deficit.
The 6-foot-4 Wise’s jump hook off Meralco import Terrence Williams gave Barako Bull a 94-92 lead with 35 ticks to go.
And though Gary David later on tied the game at 94-all on two foul shots, Wise drew a foul from Williams with 1.3 seconds to go.
The 24-year-old Wise made his first soul shot before deliberately missing the second attempt. Cliff Hodge grabbed the rebound and made a long heave on the other end, which just hit the back iron as time expired.
Wise led the Energy with 33 points, 16 rebounds and six assists in 41 minutes, becoming just the second second-generation PBA import in league history.
Wise’s father, Francois, played for four PBA teams in a six-year span that began with U-Tex, Tanduay, Manila Beer and finally with Hills Bros.
Meantime, Williams, who shot 10 three-point shots in Meralco’s only tune-up match last week, was a big disappointment.
He finished with 19 points, but took 20 three-point attempts and made just four in his official PBA debut.