Led by Nino Canaleta’s league season-high and franchise record nine triples, Air21 laid claim to the eighth and last quarterfinals berth via a 95-91 overtime upset of Petron Blaze Saturday night in the third to the last playdate of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup eliminations at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

The Express’ sixth win in 14 games thus shut the door on Barako Bull’s bid to forge a playoff for the last quarterfinals seat while the Boosters also bid goodbye to their hopes of forging their own playoff bid for the second and last twice-to-beat advantage in the first round of the playoffs after absorbing a sixth loss in 13 games.

Alaska (11-3) and Rain or Shine (9-4) will thus have the Nos. 1 & 2 seeds respectively and those twice-to-beat incentives in the quarterfinals against the Nos. 8 and 7 teams in their pairings which will begin on Feb. 20.

Only the places in the two best-of-three quarterfinals starting Feb. 19 plus which teams will be Nos. 7 & 8 are going to be determined in the remaining games of the eliminations which will end on Wednesday.

“One thing I love about Nino, he’s not a bashful player. Every practice he makes sure he does some extra shooting. I’d campaign for him to become the Most Improved Player this year,” said Air21 head coach Franz Pumaren of his leading local scorer who finished with 37 points built around a 9-for-18 shooting from three-point range.

It was the most triples made by any player this season and since Renren Ritualo of Air21, now the Barako Bull franchise, also had nine on Jan. 27, 2006 in the 2005-06 Fiesta Conference semifinals against Purefoods.

Canaleta capped his heroics with a three-point play with 1:40 remaining in the extra period which broke the game’s final deadlock at 89-all as the Express completed their comeback from as much as 17 points down early in the second quarter.

Air21, which will enter the playoffs for the second conference after missing all three last season, also won the game despite missing the services of Mike Cortez who was suffering from back spasms and an injured right calf muscle.

Playing with a hurting knee, Air21 import Michael Dunigan still managed to finish with 18 points, 17 rebounds, four assists and four shotblocks while Bonbon Custodio and Wynne Arboleda added 14 and 10 markers, respectively.

Petron Blaze import Henry Sims led his team with 30 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and two steals but it was Marcio Lassiter who figured in a virtual three-point shootout with Canaleta in the second half, finishing with 23 points on a 6-for-8 shooting beyond the arc.

The Boosters were ahead by only 14-12 at the 4:07 mark of the first period when a Lassiter triple ignited a 15-2 run that gave them a commanding 29-14 lead, a few seconds before former Petron Blaze big man Noy Baclao ended the first 12 minutes of play with a basket for the Express.

Lassiter actually had two triples in that run which was capped by five straight points from Jay Washington.

Sims stretched the Boosters lead to 33-16 with four straight points to start the second quarter before Canaleta began to wax hot from three-point range, going 5-of-6, as Air21 was able to cut the deficit to just 54-44 at the half. (FM)

The scores:

AIR21 95 – Canaleta 37, Dunigan 18, Custodio 14, Arboleda 10, Baclao 6, Isip 4, Omolon 4, Atkins 2, Sena 0, Wilson 0, Menor 0, Ritualo 0.

PETRON BLAZE 91 – Sims 30, Lassiter 23, Washington 15, Fajardo 5, Miranda 5, Lutz 4, Cabagnot 3, Lanete 2, Santos 2, Pena 2, Tubid 0.

Quarterscores: 16-29, 44-54, 72-74, 87-87, 95-91

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  • mhonstar

    poor coaching and player rotation lead Petron to downfall…!

  • vladimir

    Talo na naman kami…nakakatamad panoorin ang petron…

  • Michael Sarsuelo

    petron fan ako pero nkaka sawa tlga din bakit agn2 na lagi ang laro nila:=(

  • Dawz Enz

    santos again was there doing lousy plays and shoots the ball often even in a clear poor shooting night, instead of using tubid. a coaching breakdown, not just for racela but for the whole staff.

    • Isidro Hugalbot

      yeah!!! definitely agree!! i dunno y they love miranda so much…they yeo, tubid, lassiter and lutz who can play 2 guards. miranda?!! they also used fajardo only to guard dulligan and thats it. VERY POOR COACHING FROM OLSEN SINCE FROM THE START OF HIS CAREER!!!

    • fappal

      oo, dami niyang mintis…

  • Simeon Jemota Dela Cerna

    Sa Pagkawala ni RENALDO BALKMAN … Palage nalang Talo ang (PETRON) ano banaman ito pang behera talaga……. hinde sarap panoorin ang (PETRON

  • Reynald Cruz

    pambihira air21 lng…. tsk…. ok n ung import, malakas nman un mga locals di prin nki2ta ng petron mhina coach nila c racela, wla nb clang mkuhang ibang coach? ano b meron ky racela?

  • Dave Ryan Jaspe

    ok lng yan…may nxt tym pa naman eh..sana manalo na mercy defense and no mercy offense sana cla nxt tym around vs tnt..i hope and pray na manalo na cla..swerte na naman ksi kalaban nila kaya ganun..

  • Michael Sarsuelo

    Tama ka jan pre poor rotation sa players…d nman pwedeng chemistry eh tagal na nilang nag lalaro sa isat2x,management balasahin na yan para magising:-)

  • lawrence

    palitan na yang si racela…. nakakasama lang ng loob pinagagawa nya sa petron… kalain mung di gamitin ng husto si pajardo,,, halata namang hirap ang kalaban nila pag nasa loob ng court si pajardo,, pero di nya ginagamit ng husto,,

  • Efren Sawit Abubo

    trade na kc c santos ky the beast..hahaha para lumakas ang petron..wla na ang alaska nukwa..hee

    • Isidro Hugalbot

      the beast is a good player but poor decision making and efficient…he just wants to sikat

  • Juan Mendoza Jr.

    i think arwind santos wants to be traded. and petron should try pido jarencio as head coach, maybe he can do better.

    • Isidro Hugalbot

      agree to this…olsen has to go have some experience and also need some COMMON SENSE as a COACH!!!

  • David W. Urbiztondo

    The Petron coaches r so stupid, ever hear of Box-and-one defense against Nino Canaleta

  • Gorrilaz warlord

    Who”s favor to freeman become an import of petron? Petron needs like ballkman enegytics and aggressive import for petron!

  • fappal

    Hahay, Petron. Intro-boys…

  • Twice to Beat

    Benta yung laro…kunwari overtime pa…mas gusto ng SMC makapasok ang Air 21 kesa sa Barako. Galit ang SMC kay Toroman…hehehehe!

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