Wednesday, March 21, 2012



MICK Pennisi did more than join an elite group Wednesday in his colorful pro career.

The newest member of the 700 Three-Points Made Club caused the ejection of new Petron Blaze import Will McDonald and helped Barako Bull notch a 94-80 victory that fanned the Energy's hopes of making the PBA Commissioner's Cup playoffs at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Rodney White played his best game yet with 41 points and 22 rebounds while Willie Miller, Ronald
Tubid and Dorian Pena gave significant contributions in the win that followed Barako Bull's 89-82 win over Meralco in Tubod, Lanao del Norte last Wednesday.

Ironically, White's 40-20 game was eerily reminiscent of the feat first notched in the conference by the man McDonald replaced, Nick Fazekas, who had 45 points and 22 rebounds in a 102-88 win over Air21 last Feb. 29.

Still, even coach Junel Baculi had to admit Pennisi getting the goat of McDonald with just 3:15 into the second period was the biggest key to his team rising to fifth from eighth after evening its win-loss record to 4-4.

Following their scrap underneath the Petron basket McDonald threw the ball at Pennisi's forehead, which the latter further sold – although a bit belatedly – as a flagrant foul-penalty 2 offense
by falling down on his back.

"I think I'm going into acting after my PBA career is over," said the man who was a direct hire by Red Bull when it joined the league in 2000. “But acting is part of the game.”

"Pati kami nagulat kami roon, sa ginawa ng import (McDonald). Surprised and lucky," said Baculi. "It would have been a different story had he been around to finish the game."

Even with its new reinforcement, Petron was already having a hard time matching Barako Bull's fine start, trailing by 22-32 at the time of the ejection. Without him, they trailed by as much as 28-52 and entered the fourth period staring at 52-74 deficit.

McDonald wound up with just seven points, five rebounds and a steal in 13 minutes of action. His
stint could even be shorter should PBA commissioner Chito Salud decide to suspend him a game.

Salud is set to announce his decision Thursday following a review of the incident.

After absorbing their third straight loss, the Boosters dropped to a 3-5 slate and traded places
with their latest conquerors. They wind up the eliminations against defending champion Talk ‘N
Text next Wednesday.

For its part, Barako Bull closes out its elims assignments against Barangay Ginebra on Sunday and Baculi maintained it is just a matter of his charges keeping focused for them to really bounce back from an eighth place finish in the season-opening Philippine Cup.

"We're finishing strong," said Baculi. "With a little bit of luck, maybe we can enter the
quarterfinals. But Ginebra is very tough, so we have to bring out all the things we know in
basketball against them."

Pennisi became just the eighth member of the elite club after making his second trey of the game
against McDonald at the 2:32 mark of the first period, helping Barako take the canto, 30-20.

Ronald Tubid's pair of triples in a 17-4 run to end the third period also proved huge.

White had eight points in that surge that came after Petron grittily fought back behind Alex
Cabagnot and Joseph Yeo to whittle the deficit to just nine points twice in the third period, the last at 48-57.

Barako Bull failed to buy a single basket in the first 5:24 of the last quarter, practically
allowing Petron to threaten last at 64-77.

"With an all-Filipino crew they rallied behind their championship experience," related Baculi. "I told the boys, 'Do not joke around with a champion team unless you become champions again' and it worked."

It did not hurt that White was promptly fielded anew and he helped keep the Energy's head above
water the rest of the way by scattering eight points. (NC)

The scores:

BARAKO BULL 94 - White 41, Miller 16, Pennisi 11, Tubid 10, Allado 7, Arboleda 3, Weinstein 2,
Aquino 2, Seigle 2, Najorda 0, Pena 0.

PETRON BLAZE 80 - Cabagnot 17, Santos 13, Yeo 11, Guevarra 9, Mc Donald 7, Miranda 7, Ildefonso 7, Reyes 5, Baclao 2, Rizada 2, Al-Hussaini 0, Lanete 0, Tugade 0.

Quarterscores: 30-20, 52-32, 74-52, 94-80