DESPITE playing with a depleted roster, Petron Blaze patiently gutted down a double-digit second half deficit to pull off a come-from-behind 96-90 victory over a fighting Barako Bull side in their PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup showdown on Wednesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Defense played a huge role for the injury-riddled Boosters, who held the Energy Cola to just three points in the first six-and-a-half minutes of the payoff period, while riding the hot hands of Marcio Lassiter to complete the comeback.
Lassiter banged in a game-high 27 points and got plenty of help from Petron’s bench, which successfully held the fort for a team that came into the game with just nine healthy players.
“I’m very, very happy about this win because coming to this game, we had a lot of injured players,” said Petron coach Gee Abanilla shortly after the Boosters chalked up their fourth win in as many starts to keep the top spot in the season-opening tournament.
“We came into the game with eight players and one rookie, but for us (the coaching staff), the standard of expectation should not change.”
Shooter Chris Lutz suited up but did not play after hurting his left quadriceps in the team’s previous game, although team doctors cleared him to play.
But Abanilla opted to rest him instead.
“Everybody pitched in and a lot of the guys stepped up,” said the Petron coach. “Even Paolo Hubalde, Jason Deutchman, and the regulars like June Mar (Fajardo), Arwind Santos. So it’s a total team effort.”
Lutz joined injured players Alex Cabagnot (torn plantar), Chris Ross (hamstring), Ronald Tubid (knee), and Yousef Taha (knee) on the sidelines.
The Boosters trailed by as many as 13 points in the second period, before emerging from their slump in the second half with Lassiter, Santos, Hubalde, and Chico Lanete providing the spark.
Santos had 19, Hubalde scored a personal conference-high 15, while Fajardo added 11 and 22 rebounds, marking the second straight time he came up with 20 or more rebounds in a game.
Barako Bull, which dropped to an even 2-2 record after losing for the second straight time for a tie with idle Meralco, drew 11 points from JC Intal and 10 each from Willie Miller and Mark Macapagal.
Petron (96) -- Lassiter 26, Santos 19, Hubalde 15, Fajardo 11, Lanete 10, Deutchman 7, Duncil 4, Kramer 4, Marata 0.
Barako Bull (90) -- Intal 11, Macapagal 10, Miller 10, Buenafe 10, Wilson 9, Isip 9, Pena 9, Jensen 7, Fortuna 5, Villanueva 5, Pennisi 5, Marcelo 0.
Quarterscores: 24-31; 46-50; 71-73; 96-90.