PETRON clamped down on defense to produce a blazing windup and ultimately a 101-95 victory over Barangay Ginebra in the PBA Governors Cup at the packed Smart-Araneta Coliseum on Sunday night.
It had been a see-saw affair in the payoff period until the Blaze Boosters finished the game on an 8-2 run to get the better of their sister team, in the process spoiling the debut of former Petron coach Ato Agustin with the Kings.
“I think the players really played well defensively. That was the key for us,” said new Boosters coach Gee Abanilla, who notched his maiden victory as a head coach of a PBA team.
The former La Salle mentor, who had won a handful of games previously as an assistant, was brought in this conference along with American Todd Purves in a major coaching revamp among San Miguel Corp. squads that also saw Agustin end up with Ginebra.
“With the coaches helping out — coach Todd Purves furnishing us with some information defensively, slowly we’re trying to build the system we want to instill in the players,” Abanilla added.
Petron, coming off an 89-83 loss to Meralco, evened its win-loss record to 1-1 and gave the Kings a rude reception in their first game of the season-ending conference.
Import Elijah Millsap led five Boosters in double figures as he churned in an all-around game embellished with 24 points, nine rebounds, five assists, four steals, and two blocks.
Doug Kramer, who was acquired just a couple of days ago from Barako Bull, also played a key role, tallying a double-double of 17 points and 10 boards, and manning Ginebra import Dior Lowhorn.
Lowhorn still came up with a double-double of 29 points and 11 boards, and gave the Kings their last taste of the lead at 87-85 after converting a three-point play with five minutes and 23 seconds remaining.
From then on, both teams traded baskets and fought to three deadlocks, the last at 93-all, before the Boosters mounted on that run, anchored by Millsap, Kramer, Arwind Santos, and Marcio Lassiter.
Petron (101) - Millsap 24, Lassiter 23, Cabagnot 18, Kramer 17, Santos 12, Tubid 5, Fajardo 2, Deutchman 0, Lutz 0, Lanete 0.
Ginebra (95) - Lowhorn 29, Caguioa 15, Ellis 12, Tenorio 9, Aguilar 8, Wilson 7, Mamaril 6, Helterbrand 5, Baracael 4, Urbiztondo 0.
Quarterscores: 26-29, 45-52, 79-71, 101-95