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PBA: Air21, Petron clash

Alaska tests Rain or Shine cagers

FRANZ PumarenGames Today (Mall of Asia Arena)
5:15 p.m. ­ Petron vs Air21
7:30 p.m. ­ Alaska vs Rain or Shine

Can the Air21 Express wipe the smile off the face of Petron Blaze coach Gee Abanilla?

They sure are welcome to try.

Petron and defending champion Rain or Shine seek to disengage from a three-way tie with Barako Bull and share leadership between them today in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The Boosters face the Express (1-2) at 5:15 p.m., while the Elasto Painters, who absorbed their first loss courtesy of Petron last Sunday, take on the Alaska Aces (0-1) at 7:30 p.m.

Petron (2-1) is coming off a 99-84 shellacking of Rain or Shine last Friday, a development that had Abanilla flashing some teeth at the press room even as he cautiously deferred to his mentor Yeng Guiao, the Elasto Painters coach.

“We’re just fortunate their outside shots didn’t fall,“ said Abanilla, an assistant to Guiao before being acquired by the San Miguel group. “And I think their national players (Jeff Chan, Gabe Norwood and Beau Belga) are still a little off sync.“

Elijah Millsap had 33 points that evening while Alex Cabagnot added 16, Arwind Santos 13 and JunMar Fajardo 12 points. All four will again be the big guns in Petron’s arsenal against Air21.

The Express absorbed a 10394 loss to Barako Bull two days later in a game that saw Air21 coach Franz Pumaren slamming Energy Cola consultant Rajko Toroman for calling a timeout with 25 seconds remaining and his team up by nine.

Pumaren told reporters Toroman was disrespectful while the Serbian former coach of the original Smart Gilas national team said the timeout was called in anticipation of a foul Air21 might give up to gain possession.

Leading Air21 (1-2) against the Boosters is Zach Graham, who had 34 points and 10 rebounds in the Barako Bull game.

Looking to keep pace with Pe tron, in the event of a victory over Air21, is Rain or Shine even as Alaska eyes its first win after a stunning 91-88 debut loss to Globalport last week.

Arizona Reid had 30 points and 14 rebounds against Petron. But the Elasto Painters’ RP players remained out of rhythm, with Belga scoring six points in six minutes, Chan five in 21, and Norwood two in 24. Rain or Shine shot just 34 percent overall, including 8 of 31 from trey territory.

The Aces, meanwhile, are bent on rebounding from that Globalport upset where they paraded Wendell Mckines who shot 12 of 19 from inside the 3-point arc. The score was still tied at 88 when Gary David came loose from a hand-off with 9.3 seconds left and buried what turned out to be the game-winning 3-point shot.

Sonny Thoss had 16 points that night, Cyrus Baguio 13 and Jayvee Casio 11. But the Aces committed 17 turnovers, five by rookie Calvin Abueva (11 rebounds) and four by Casio (5 assists). (Tito S. Talao)