Mendoza: Petron lucky to have taken Millsap in PBA-A A +A
Friday, September 27, 2013
PETRON Blaze has licked the curse of rest.
Proving to be the hottest team in the PBA (Philippine Basketball Association) Governors Cup, Petron, despite a 10-day rest, defeated Barangay Ginebra 101-94 on Thursday as the Boosters stretched their winning run to nine while capturing a precious semifinal berth.
But there were tense moments before Petron could clinch victory. It saw its 25-point margin bizarrely reduced to just a point before regaining control going into the homestretch.
“I think we were just lucky,” said the ever-humble Gee Abanilla, the Petron coach.
“We played a very tired Ginebra, and only our staying focused carried us to victory.”
So tired was Ginebra after embarking on a sizzling siege, led by LA Tenorio, that at the three-minute mark, the Kings had become as spent as thoroughbreds dashing madly to the white line.
Tenorio, one of the spark plugs of Gilas Pilipinas in the recent Fiba Asia Cup that sealed a slot to the 2014 Spain Worlds, finished with 20 points, firing many of his output during Ginebra’s uprising in the third that rocked the MOA Arena in Pasay no end.
“Hat’s off to LA (Tenorio) and also to coach Ato (Agustin),” Gee said. “They just would not give up.”
And so was Elijah Millsap, the Petron import, who never gave up under the weight of Ginebra bombardment to finish with a rare triple double: 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists.
So all-around was Millsap once again that Siot Tanquincen, the modest Petron Blaze manager, said: “We are truly blessed to have Millsap in our team. He is more than a bonus.”
Then Siot bared the other side of Millsap.
“He is very kind-hearted,” Siot said to me at the bridge-way of MOA Arena leading to the parking lot after Thursday’s game. “He even went to an orphanage yesterday to distribute hamburger sandwiches to the kids there—without our knowing it. Such a nice, God-loving fellow, indeed.”
PBA Commissioner Salud also noticed Millsap’s demeanor during games.
“He is a very behave kid,” Salud said. “Amid his brand of explosive play, Millsap exudes an air of humility. Petron is lucky to have an import like him.”
I can swear to that.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 28, 2013.