MIKE Cortez and the Air21 Express fell prey to overconfidence and paid dearly for it after losing what should have been a won game over Barako Bull.
The Express squandered a 10-point lead inside the final five minutes of their PBA Commissioner’s Cup game against the Energy Cola Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena as Barako suddenly exploded entering the homestretch and turned the game around, 91-86.
Cortez admitted the Express had no one to blame but themselves.
“Maybe we thought the game was over. We didn’t end the game the way we wanted to. We kind of relaxed a little bit,” Cortez said after the game. “I had some crucial turnovers, too.”
Cortez’ failure to take care of the basketball proved to be a major factor in the collapse.
The veteran point guard out of La Salle committed three of his game-high five turnovers in the crucial stretch of the final quarter when the Energy Cola came through with a telling 20-5 windup.
Although Cortez finished with 14 points, four rebounds, and five assists, the Express’ starting playmaker was completely outplayed in the stretch run by Barako Bull counterpart Josh Urbiztondo.
The speedy Urbiztondo banged in all but two of his 15 points in the fourth period, including two big three-point shots during the team’s endgame rally.
“Josh didn’t shoot the ball well the whole game until the final five minutes when he caught fire because his shots started to fall,” explained the cat-quick Cortez.
The Air21 star hopes he and the rest of the Express would learn from the endgame meltdown, especially since they will be facing an even tougher Rain or Shine squad in their next outing.
“We need to take care of the ball more. Now we just have to go back to the drawing board and see what we need to do to adjust,” he said.