OUT to show that its offseason moves make sense, Barako Bull hammered Air21, 88-75, on Wednesday night to start its PBA Philippine Cup campaign on a rousing note at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Energy Cola, the subject of scorn after trading away all their draft picks this year in exchange for veterans, relied on their experience as they opened a big lead early and never allowed Air21 to come close.
“The players really want to prove something,” said Energy Cola coach Bong Ramos, who took over from former national coach Rajko Toroman just weeks before the start of the season.
They Said It!
“The players really want to prove something." - Energy Cola coach Bong Ramos
“It’s only the first game. Pero wala pa talaga sila napo-prove. But I can see this team can pull off some surprises,” he added.
New acquisition Denok Miranda and fellow veteran Mark Isip spearheaded the onslaught for the Barako Bull, which enjoyed margins as big as 33 points against a fancied Air21 side that acquired several key pieces late last season.
Air21 only made the score respectable with a late run when the outcome was already beyond doubt.
The Energy Cola broke the game open in the middle quarters where Isip, Miranda, Ronjay Buenafe, and Mark Macapgal did most of their damage against the Express, who were without their prized addition Macmac Cardona.
Isip registered a team-high 16 points, while Buenafe, Macapagal, and Miranda all waxed hot from long range to also finish in double figures in scoring.
Joseph Yeo fired a game-high 22 points, including nine — all on triples — in the last three minutes where he tried to singlehandedly make a last-ditch push, with his last triple cutting the lead to just 13 points that turned out to be the final score.
Barako Bull 88 – Isip 16, Buenafe 11, Macapagal 10, Miranda 10, Intal 9, Jensen 8, Villanueva 6, Wilson 4, Miller 4, Pennisi 4, Fortuna 2, Marcelo 2, Pena 2
Air 21 75 – Yeo 22, Canaleta 18, Taulava 10, Ritualo 7, Sharma 6, Custodio 5, Menor 4, Camson 2, Espiritu 1, Burstcher 0, Arboleda 0, Manuel 0.
Quarterscores: 22-17; 48-28; 75-44; 88-75