PINT-sized rookie guard Eman Monfort came through with a pair of big baskets down the stretch as Barako Bull weathered a furious Barangay Ginebra fightback for a rousing 104-91 win in the PBA Governors Cup Friday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The 5-foot-7 Monfort stood tall in the face of the Kings’ huge late comeback, hitting a pressure-packed three-pointer and converting on a fastbreak play that capped a seven-point run by Barako Bull.
The telling run had the Energy Cola restoring order as they led, 94-80, in the final four minutes of play.
The Kings, who rallied from as much as an 18-point deficit after earlier losing big man Japeth Aguilar to a suspected sprained MCL, then went scoreless in a three-minute stretch to seal their own doom.
The victory vaulted Barako Bull to a share of the lead with Petron at 3-1 as it won its third straight game, while Ginebra fell to 1-2.
“What can I say? It was a great game by our team. Before the game, (there are) three crucial things we wanted to do defensively: stop (LA) Tenorio, (Mark) Caguioa, and import (Dior Lowhorn), which we did,” said a beaming Barako Bull active consultant Rajko Toroman after the game.
The former Olympic coach heaped praise on Monfort for his big, fighting heart as he fired a career-best 25 points, including 17 in the second half, to earn his second Best Player of the Game honor in a span of two weeks.
Monfort scored 22 points, including a dagger three-pointer during Barako Bull’s 90-89 pulse-pounding win over Meralco on Aug. 18.
“Eman played one of his best games. He’s really crucial and was a big factor for our team,” added the Serbian mentor.
Nearly a week after torching Meralco with a new career-high 34 points, Ginebra starting playmaker LA Tenorio was held down to just four points on a horrible 1-of-10 shooting.
Caguioa, the reigning league MVP, scored 13 points, but shot horrendously from the field by going 3-of-13 as the Gin Kings struggled to find ways to support import Dior Lowhorn.
The wide-bodied Lowhorn led the Kings with 30 points and nine boards, but failed to get adequate local support, especially after Aguilar went down late in the first quarter.
The 6-foot-9 Aguilar left the game for good with 4:01 to go in the opening period after scoring just a point and grabbing five boards before being evaluated by PBA sports doctor Ronald Calma.
Barako Bull (104) - Singletary 38, Monfort 25, Buenafe 15, Seigle 10, Marcelo 5, Cruz 3, Pena 3, Intal 2, Pennisi 2, Macapagal 1, Jensen 0.
Ginebra (91) - Lowhorn 30, Mamaril 14, Caguioa 13, Baracael 11, Wilson 7, Tenorio 4, Helterbrand 4, Urbiztondo 3, Ellis 2, Labagala 2, Aguilar 1, Ababou 0, Maierhofer 0.
Quarterscores: 26-22; 50-42; 85-67; 104-91.