IMPORT Markeith Cummings provided the hustle and energy for a retooled Globalport squad as the Batang Pier turned back the Air21 Express, 101-94, and get their PBA Governors Cup campaign off to a sizzling start on Wednesday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The 6-foot-5 Cummings, coming off a three-year collegiate stint with the Kennesaw State Owls, a US NCAA Division I school, had 37 points, 11 rebounds, and three steals in engineering the Batang Pier’s solid debut in the season-ending conference.
“We’re just getting in and building chemistry right now. I told the players before the pre-game huddle that we have seven new players plus one import, so more than half of the team is new,” said Batang Pier coach Junel Baculi.
“Sabi ko nga, we can get Ws (wins) out of these (changes) while in the process of building chemistry. Still, we have a lot of things to do so in order to contend with other great teams, we need to work hard,” he added.
The Batang Pier, who led by as many as 17 points, also drew 15 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and three steals from newcomer Jay Washington, who was traded to Globalport by Petron during the conference break.
“I was nervous out there at the beginning because it took me a little bit to settle before I played better,” said the 6-7 Washington.
Star guard Gary David just watched the game behind the bench as Globalport management opted to give him some time off after helping Gilas Pilipinas place second behind Fiba-Asia men’s champion Iran on Sunday.
“I like the effort of the guys, who likes to stick their nose out there. I think we got to do a better job closing out quarters, especially in the end of the game where we had boneheaded mistakes. We just need to get better,” added Washington, a two-time PBA Best Player of the Conference.
Comebacking import Zach Graham led the Express with 31 points and 10 rebounds, while KG Canaleta added 19 and eight boards for Air21’s losing cause.
GlobalPort 101 - Cummings 37, Washington 15, Belencion 14, Miller 10, Lingganay 8, Mercado 8, Hayes 6, Salvador 2, Yee 1, Buensuceso 0, Taha 0, Nabong 0, Alonzo 0.
Air 21 94 - Graham 31, Canaleta 19, Isip 13, Menor 9, Sharma 8, Arboleda 7, Sena 2, Custodio 2, Cortez 2, Omolon 1, Manuel 0.
Quarterscores: 24-20, 53-42, 78-68, 101-94