Terrence Romeo posted a career-high 41 points as GlobalPort beat Alaska 107-93 in Game 1 of the best-of-seven semifinals of the Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on Monday.
“I’m so thankful to God for giving me all the strength to lead this team and win Game One,” said Romeo, who shot 12-of-21 overall in the field and 11-of-12 in the free throw line. “I’m hoping to sustain my energy in Game two. My teammates also gave their best.”
“Alaska is a tough team and it’s going to be a tough series. They are the best defensive team because they limit their opponent at below 80 points,” said GlobalPort’s Pido Jarencio during the post-game interview. “Tonight is our night, but this is a long series and we need to be consistent.”
Stanley Pringle finished with 14 points plus six rebounds and four assists while Keith Jensen and Billy Mamaril posted 12 points each also for GlobalPort. Mamaril also had seven rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Cyrus Baguio led Alaska with 15 points.
GlobalPort edged Alaska in the opening period relying heavily on Romeo’s 13 points in the first quarter to establish Batang Pier’s commanding 29-18 lead at the start of second quarter. They also had their biggest lead in the first quarter 24-6.
The former Far Eastern University standout stayed unstoppable scoring nine in the second frame while Anthony Semerad and Pringle delivered six points each to keep GlobalPort’s double-digit advantage 52-42 at halftime.
The Batang Pier sustained their offensive in the second half to keep their lead. They did not relinquish their advantage in the fourth period en route to a 1-0 lead in the series.
Defending champion San Mi¬guel Beer and Rain or Shine, meanwhile, will start the other best-of-seven semifinals showdown at 7 p.m. tonight at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria said he expects the Elasto Painters to be physically stronger and more determined than during their last match. The Beermen were defeated by the Elasto Painters 84-99 during their first meeting in the elimination round on November 4.
“We have to be consistent defensively particularly in stopping their transition offense,” Austria said. “If there is any team that can beat us, it’s Rain or Shine. We prepared seriously in this series at the time they [Rain or Shine] were still playing in the quarterfinals.”
Rain or Shine, armed with a twice-to-beat advantage, eliminated Blackwater 95-90 in the first phase of quarterfinals and then ousted Talk ‘N Text 104-89 in the second knockout quarterfinals stage to advance into the best-of-seven semifinals.
The Elasto Painters will lean on Jay-R Quinahan, Jewel Ponferada, Beau Belga, Raymond Almazan, Gabe Norwood, Jireh Ibanez, Jericho Cruz, Don Trollano and Maverick Ahanmisi, among others.
“All their players and even the big men can hit three-pointers that’s why you have to play good defense against them,” Austria added. “Coach Yeng [Guiao] is also a good coach and I respect him. He can make adjustments in this series.”
Two-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo is expected to lead the offense of the Beermen in the series.
“I’m just going to follow coach Leo’s system and game plan. I’m not thinking of any revenge or getting back against them [Rain or Shine],” Fajardo told The Manila Times during a phone interview. “All I wanted is to win.”
Besides Fajardo, Arwind Santos, Ryan Arana, Marcio Lassiter, guard Alex Cabagnot, Chris Ross, Jay-R Reyes, Gabby Espinas, Chris Lutz and 6’8 Yancy De Ocampo are also expected to step up for the Beermen.
San Miguel Beer finished the elimination round with a 9-2 win-loss record to land in the top two spot.