source: Reynaldo Belen | InterAKTV
B-MEG coach Tim Cone expected a tough battle in his team’s first game against the Meralco Bolts.
“The first game is always a struggle, that’s for sure. You’re not clean on what you do and you get distracted. We were distracted in the second quarter and we lost that big lead,” said Cone.
“But what I found out with these guys is that they don’t panic right away. We got our game under control in the second half and played the way we wanted to play.”
The Llamados squandered a 15-point lead in the first period, but recovered in time to settle for a 96-93 win over the Bolts on opening day of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Friday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
Denzel Bowles, B-MEG’s celebrated import, put up decent numbers of 27 points and 11 rebounds in his debut game while Josh Urbiztondo and Roger Yap played key roles in the second half, allowing the Llamados to get their second wind and pick up a win in this short import-laced conference.
“Denzel played as good as advertised,” said Cone. “We’ve just talked about him and for good reasons. He just ran out of steam in the second half and I had to give him quick breaks. But Rafi Reavis did a tremendous job covering up for him.”
“Denzel played with two other imports in the European League and he’s been averaging 25 minutes in a 40-minute game, unlike here where he had to play 48 minutes and see action for 35 to 40 minutes per game,” added Cone.
Despite looking visibly tired in the second half, Bowles was able to make key plays for the Llamados, including two monster alley-oop dunks off passes from Urbiztondo.
“We’ve been working on it during practice,” said Bowles, who had an impressive stint in Lithuania before joining the Llamados.
Cone also heaped praise on Roger Yap, who did an excellent job guarding Mac Cardona for several stretches. Cardona was having a scorching night, finishing with 32 points, but Yap put the lock on the prolific scorer late in the game.
“Roger did an excellent job on Cardona and once he started doing that, I couldn’t take him out,” said Cone.
Yap’s three-point play started a short 6-0 run that gave B-MEG an 89-76 spread with 4:51 left, but Meralco, behind Cardona, was able to mount another rally.
Cardona’s two free throws shoved the Bolts to within three points, 92-89, with 48.6 seconds remaining, but Bowles and Urbiztondo combined to make four of six free throws in the Llamados’ next three plays to seal the win.
B-MEG (96) – Bowles 27, Yap, J. 18, Urbiztondo 10, Intal 10, Simon 10, De Vance 7, Yap, R. 7, Pingris 5, Barroca 2, Reavis 0, De Ocampo 0.
Meralco (93) – Cardona 32, Famous 24, Artadi 13, Ross 7, Borboran 6, Hugnatan 6, Macapagal 3, Espinas 2, Timberlake 0, Taulava 0
Quarterscores: 33-18; 43-46; 73-71; 96-93