PETRON Blaze relied on the hot hands of Alex Cabagnot in a fourth-quarter shooting spree that enabled the Boosters to turn back a fighting Barako Bull side, 98-89, and register their first win in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday night.
Cabagnot hit two big three-pointers to steady the Petron ship after Barako Bull, down by as many as 20 points at the midway point of the third period, launched a 9-2 start in the fourth quarter to inch within 77-82.
But Cabagnot kicked off his fourth quarter heroics with two big triples to restore order in Petron’s suddenly volatile offense, allowing the Boosters to bounce back from a 102-86 drubbing they got from Rain or Shine last week.
“Nag-relax kami eh,” Petron new coach Olsen Racela said. “We committed turnovers. On defense, we gave about three three-point shots. Iyan ang kailangan naming matutunan, to play defense consistently for 48 minutes. Kahit sinong team bigyan mo ng ganun, mabilis bumalik. That’s what we need to learn.”
What gave the Boosters enough buffer in the final period was their huge 30-4 fastbreak advantage, relying on the quick transition plays of Fil-Am Chris Lutz and Arwind Santos, who finished the game with a double-double – 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Lutz though provided the early spark for a talent-laden Petron five, going seven-of-11 from the two-point zone that allowed the Boosters to control the game for 48 minutes.
The 6’2” Lutz, a former Smart Gilas mainstay, though had to leave the game midway in the final period prematurely after suffering a cut on his chin during a brief physical skirmish with Barako Bull’s Sean Anthony.
Lutz finished the game with a team-high 22 points, three rebounds and six assists, while Cabagnot added 16 and 10 assists in a solid performance for Petron.
Top rookie pick June Mar Fajardo was limited to 16 minutes of play due to foul trouble. He wound up with three points, seven rebounds and two shot blocks.
Meantime, playmaker Josh Urbiztondo, who led Barako Bull’s fourth-quarter rally, paced the Energy Cola (1-1) with 17 points and seven assists, while Mick Pennisi added 16 points and six rebounds.
Petron 98 - Lutz 22, Santos 18, Cabagnot 16, Duncil 8, Miranda 8, Yeo 7, Mallari 4, Washington 4, Ildefonso 4, Fajardo 3
Barako Bull 89 - Urbiztondo 17, Pennisi 16, Villanueva 13, Anthony 10, Kramer 10, Tubid 10, Najorda 5, Seigle 4, Alvarez 2, Cruz 2, Yap 0
Quarter scores: 24-20, 53-40, 80-68, 98-89