RONJAY Buenafe capped his fourth-quarter heroics with a twisting layup off two defenders as Barako Bull shoot down the Alaska Aces, 97-93, to become an unlikely co-leader in the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Buenafe fired 27 points while making seven three-point shots, leading the Energy Cola’s spectacular climb from a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit on the way to a second straight win - not bad at all for a team that had come under fire for controversial deals in the offseason.
His difficult layup with 33.7 seconds to go off two Alaska defenders, gave Barako Bull the lead for good, 95-93, before JC Intal split his free throws after Alaska sophomore Aldrich Ramos missed a three-point attempt.
The Aces had one last opportunity to send the game into overtime, but Cyrus Baguio’s fallaway three-point attempt went short. Willie Miller then sealed the win for Barako Bull with a split from the free throw line, time down to 2.2 seconds.
“Start of the fourth quarter, we adjusted also. I’m happy because the players responded sa adjustments. It’s a game of execution and it’s a game of adjustment,” said winning Barako Bull coach Bong Ramos.
The win pushed Barako Bull to a share of the lead with idle Petron Blaze and Rain or Shine, which was to play Barangay Ginebra in the second game on Sunday.
Barako Bull finished the game with 17 three-point shots, the franchise’s all-time most shots made in a regulation play. The Energy Cola had seven triples in the fourth quarter alone where they outscored the Aces, 34-17.
Baguio led the Aces with 20 points but was a non-factor in the fourth quarter as the team lost for the second time in three games.