Miller Time came early in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup for the Barako Bull Energy.
Miller “took under his wings” import DerMarr Johnson who debuted for Barako Bull without much
fanfare Friday night, putting up numbers that didn’t bring back memories of great reinforcements
before him but impacted enough in the eyes of head coach Junel Baculi.
“He is what we need, a No. 3 (shooting forward), something we lacked last conference,” Baculi
said.Drafted sixth overall in 2000 by the former Atlanta Hawks, Johnson shot 1 for 9 from 3-point rangeand just had eight rebounds but the figures hardly mattered as Miller unloaded 25 points and theEnergy zapped the Alaska Aces, 98-78, at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum. The two-time MVP went 2 for 3 from beyond the arc, had six rebounds and two assists in 28 minutes.
“Willie stepped up,” Baculi confirmed. “We have a good import, but he can only be good if our
locals deliver, and tonight they did, including Ronald Tubid.”
Tubid played his first game after getting traded by Barangay Ginebra and added 10 points.
“He contributed a lot with his energy,” said Baculi of Tubid, adding in jest. “Maybe because
he’s now drinking Barako Bull.”
The Aces put up forgettable numbers: 1 of 12 from 3-point territory, 31 of 84 from the field
overall, 15 of 22 from the line, and 22 turnover points yielded through 19 errors.
They were beaten in the perimeter, 56-17, and gave up 70 points on Barako Bull jump shots, 24 of
them open looks.
Baculi didn’t take any credit though.
“It’s too early. Maybe Alaska just played bad. We didn’t play good either,” he said.
Barako takes on B-Meg next this Wednesday.
“We’ll see when in our next game. They have a tough import.”
Asked how many games he requires for Johnson to prove his worth further, Baculi said, “As long as we’re winning, we’ll be contented with him.”
Johnson had 12 points in the first half and Miller 10 as Barako took a 39-34 lead, the opening two quarters marked by five deadlocks and 12 lead changes but little dramatic action.
Neither team shot well from the perimeter, and the Aces were hurt even more by their woeful 1 of 7 from 3-point range, with Cyrus Baguio going 1 of 3 and LA Tenorio 0 for 2.
Desperate to shed off misfortunes of the recent past, the Aces abandoned their standard triangle
offense – the Phil Jackson system adopted by Tim Cone to establish a minor Alaska dynasty with 13 championships – for a more free-wheeling approach.
But the Aces groped for familiarity with their return to a more conventional offense, and the
defensive effort of import Adam Parada, who suited up for Red Bull years ago, failed to inspire his local teammates.
A third quarter Barako Bull explosion settled the outcome as the Energy, with Miller going 6 for 6 from the floor, shot 13 of 23 while forcing the Aces to miss 17 of 23.
After three quarters, Parada had 14 points and Baguio 11. But Mac Baracael shot 1 for 6, LA Tenorio 1 for 7, Jay-R Reyes 1 for 7, and Sonny Thoss 3 for 11, and the Aces fell behind by as many 26 in the fourth period.
Both teams wrapped up the first conference Philippine Cup by losing their last four games, with
Alaska winding up with a 3-11 card and finishing ninth to miss the playoffs. (TT)
BARAKO BULL 98 – Miller 25, Johnson 19, Najorda 10, Tubid 10, Allado 10, Pennisi 9, Salvador 6,
Aquino 4, Sorongon 3, Arboleda 2, Gatumbato 0, Lanete 0, andaya 0, Pena 0.
ALASKA 78 – Parada 16, Baguio 13, Baracael 11, Custodio 9, Tenorio 8, Thoss 8, Reyes 5, Salamat 3, Eman 3, Bugia 2, Gelig 0.
Quarterscores: 17-16, 39-34, 72-51, 98-78