AIR21 came out with its best defensive effort of the season to overwhelm an off-form Barako Bull side, 103-85, on Friday night in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Import Herve Lamizana spearheaded the Express’ resolute defense, holding prolific Barako Bull reinforcement Joshua Dollard to just 12 points, while Macmac Cardona, Asi Taulava and new boy Aldrech Ramos played key roles in the Express' second win in three games.
Dollard, the shortest import this conference at 6’4” & 9/16, averaged 44.5 points during his first two games. But on Friday, Barako Bull’s fiery import was nowhere near his average.
Lamizana, who didn’t score in the entire first half, ran riot in the third quarter by scoring 20 of Air21’s 30 points, putting his team comfortably ahead, 75-57 entering the final period.
“Our primary concern going to this game is trying to hold down Joshua Dollard. As we all know, Herve is the best defensive player right now, and he was able to limit his (Dollard’s) point production,” said Air21 coach Franz Pumaren after the game.
“With Herve, he gives us additional dimension eh.”
The Express just kept pouring the heat in the final quarter with Ramos and Cardona nailing their outside shots, while Taulava’s inside stab gaving them their biggest lead at 93-58, with under seven minutes to play.
Barako Bull, which is coming off a 110-106 upset victory over fancied Rain or Shine on Sunday, failed to get its offense going against Air21’s swarming defense.
Lamizana led the Express with 24 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks, while Ramos, a sophomore big man who arrvied in a trade for Vic Manuel, debuted with 17 points for Air21 after going a perfect 4-of-4 from beyond the three-point arc.
Cardona chipped in 15, while Taulava had 14 and 10 boards for the Express.
JC Intal and Dennis Miranda had 18 points apiece to pace the Energy, who dropped to 1-2 (win-loss).
Air 21 103 - Lamizana 24, Ramos 17, Cardona 15, Taulava 14, Burtscher 8, Matias 7, Villanueva 5, Yeo 5, Jaime 2, Poligrates 2, Sharma 2, Atkins 2, Borboran 0, Camson 0.
Barako Bull 85 - Intal 18, Miranda 18, Dollard 12, Miller 10, Pennisi 9, Lastimosa 6, Jensen 4, Buenafe 4, Fortuna 3, Wilson 1, Deutchman 0, Isip 0, Marcelo 0, Pena 0
Quarterscores: 16-17; 45-32; 75-57; 103-85.