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    'El Granada' explodes on return as 'Cool Cat' savors new lease on life

    Nov 10, 2012
    Mike Cortez, left, had a sizzling debut for Air21 while Gary David has his best game for new team Globalport. Jerome Ascano

    LAST Friday night in the 2012-13 PBA Philippine Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome, 'El Granada' finally exploded after a two-game, three-quarter slump and a 'Cool Cat' showed he’s got a few more remaining from his nine lives when he came up with his best game in six years.

    * * *

    Gary David had 21 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter which was still not enough for Globalport as it lost to Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 81-79, in the second game of a Friday doubleheader.

    Still David’s 8-of-12 shooting from the field in that final period, including 2-of-4 from trifecta country, was enough to announce he was back.

    The leading local scorer the last three seasons and in six of the last seven conferences, David had averaged only 13.0 points on a measly 20% field goal clip in his first two games with his new team before he was sidelined by a bruised knee that caused him to miss the Batang Pier’s next six games.

    Then he returned to action last Sunday still rusty, going just 3-for-11 and scoring just six points in 15 minutes of action in the first three quarters against the Kings.

    But David finally got his rhythm going in those final 12 minutes of the game, when after missing his first two attempts, he made four in a row and sank seven of his first eight shots in the period.

    The 21 is the most points scored in a quarter by a local since Wynne Arboleda had 23 of his 28 points for Air21 in the fourth quarter of a 118-104 elimination loss to Talk ‘N Text in Game Three of a best-of-five semifinal sweep in the Commissioner’s Cup on April 20, 2011.

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    * * *

    Playing his first game for his new team Air21 since being traded from Barangay Ginebra last Wednesday in exchange for rookie Yousef Taha, 10-season veteran Mike Cortez wasted no time in repaying coach Franz Pumaren’s confidence in him by tallying 24 points, six rebounds, six assists, and five steals in 24 minutes off the bench as the Express downed Barako Bull 81-79.

    It was Cortez’s highest output in a game since he had 24 points, seven rebounds, eight assists and a steal, and a shotblock for Alaska on October 8, 2006 in a 97-93 loss to Talk ‘N Text in the Philippine Cup.

    Playing for his fifth PBA team after Alaska, San Miguel Beer, Air21 (the former franchise of the current Barako Bull squad) and the Kings since becoming the No.1  overall pick in the 2003 Draft, Cortez’s heroics against the Energy Cole included the game’s final five points and a couple of defensive hustle that sealed Air21’s first back-to-back wins in the conference. (The Express had routed Petron Blaze 97-76 a week earlier.)

    It took me awhile to research who was the last local player to have had those numbers of Cortez in a game. Sol Mercado, Chris Ross, Ryan Reyes, Jayson Castro all came close but fell short.

    So who was the last Filipino player in the PBA to have had at least 24 points, six rebounds, six assists and five steals in a game?  Curiously it’s the same player which Cortez was backing up in his first seven games this conference at Barangay Ginebra – LA Tenorio.

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    On March 25, 2011 in the Commissioner’s Cup elims while still playing for Alaska, Tenorio had a career-high 33 points , eight rebounds, six assists and five steals (plus two shotblocks) in a 104-101 overtime victory over Meralco in a game where he scored ALL his points in the second half. (Also in that game, Alaska import LD Williams was ejected just four minutes and eight seconds into the game for elbowing Mark  Cardona in the face.)

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    Mike Cortez, left, had a sizzling debut for Air21 while Gary David has his best game for new team Globalport. Jerome Ascano
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