IMPORT Renaldo Balkman and Arwind Santos hit the crucial baskets down the stretch to bail Petron Blaze out in a low-scoring 60-53 win over Air21 in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Balkman and Santos combined for 13 of Petron's final 19 points in a highly defensive contest that went down in the PBA record books as the seventh all-time lowest output in a game.
“It was a defensive game for both teams,” said Petron coach Olsen Racela. “At halftime, I told the guys, 'I don’t care if we have a low-scoring game as long as we make stops on the defensive end'."
Balkman played a pedestrian game up until the final stretch, when he combined with Santos to help the Beermen open a 57-48 lead going into the final three-and-a-half minutes.
"I just have to hand it to our import Rey Balkman. There were stretches in the Meralco game where we couldn’t get anything, today, the same thing, but Rey, being the leader that he is, stepped up, and he gave us that cushion in the end,” Racela said.
The Express, who dropped their fourth straight match after winning their conference-opener, closed in at 53-59 with 49.9 ticks to play, but failed to buy another basket from thereon.
Racela also heaped praise on newly acquired guard Ronald Tubid, who did a splendid job shadowing Air21’s gunner KG Canaleta. Though giving up four inches in height, Tubid held the usually efficient Canaleta to just eight points on 3-of-16 shooting overall.
Tubid went on to earn Best Player of the Game honors after finishing with seven points, seven rebounds and three blocks.
The match produced several lows, with Petron’s 60 points ending up as the sixth all-time lowest winning score - and the lowest winning score in franchise history.
On the other hand, Air21’s 53 points was the franchise’s lowest score ever in a game and equalled the seventh all-time lowest production in league history.
The two teams' 113 points combined also went down as the fifth all-time lowest combined scores in a game.
Petron 60 - Balkman 25, Santos 11, Lassiter 7, Tubid 7, Miranda 6, Lanete 4, Fajardo 0, Yeo 0, Washington 0, Pena 0
Air21 53 - Dunigan 15, Custodio 8, Canaleta 8, Cortez 7, Isip 6, Wilson 5, Omolon 2, Arboleda 2, Atkins 0, Sena 0, Baclao 0, Menor 0
Quarterscores: 18-17, 34-24, 41-all, 60-53