Manny Pacquiao’s Pacman Warriors failed to ride on the crest of their chief backer’s convincing win on Sunday and the home team Montana Pawnshop pulled off a big one before their ecstatic fans as Davao quenched its thirst for the big leagues with a newly-refurbished arena.
Contrasting fates as they turned out to be, still there was no missing the point. Basketball’s happy days are back.
Mayor Rodrigo Duterte formally opened the doors to the new-look Davao City Recreation Center (nee Almendras Gym) in an emotional ceremony marked by the recognition of the city’s sports heroes and the return of big-time tournaments in this basketball-crazy city. After giving his short but heart-tugging speech, the Mayor who will end his term on June, took a bow and the crowd stood up in appreciation.
And unlike the 51,000 paying fans over at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium, the capacity crowd that filled the DCRC did not go home frustrated. There was just a lot of making up to do in terms of basketball action. Mayor Duterte watched from the sidelines along with Councilor Mabel Sunga-Acosta and a host of barangay captains, and Purefoods assistant coach Ronnie Magsanoc.
Action was intense on the hardcourt as the Pacman Warriors were stopped to their toes in a game that almost turned ugly with a near-boxing match. But still, that’s part of basketball. Anyways, Pacman’s squad took it flush on the chin from Laguna’s Team Bida 87-77 for its first loss while the Jewels of Davao walked off proudly with a 91-87 conquest of M.Lhuillier Kwarta Padala.
That and more capped a grandiose opening of the Mayor Rody-Vice Mayor Inday Sara 73rd Araw ng Dabaw Invitational basketball tournament.
If defense was Manny Pacquiao’s main problem on the ring, Team Bida’s defense was also the headache for his Warriors. Former San Miguel Beerman Marlon Legaspi imposed his presence in the paint while Leomer Losentes and Glen Bolocon provided the spark for the Laguna franchise. Together, the troika conspired for 30 markers.
The Warriors were frustrated no end by the pesky defense of Bida even as Jhon Gonzaga caught fire with 16 and Louie Medalla had 13. At crucial stretches in the fourth period, they just could not turn their luck around.
In the nightcap, Montana Pawnshop pulled away from a tight first half with beanpole Fred Canlas scoring off nifty passes inside and then survived a big rally by M. Lhuillier in the final period. The 6-9 Canlas scored 10 points in the third quarter, six of them coming off and-one plays, as the Jewels erected a 61-45 lead, 4:06 left.
Ronald Lamocha, who took over at center when the red-hot Canlas was curiously benched in the fourth, and Donald Tadena preserved the win after the Cebuanos equalized in the fourth period with a scorching run keyed by Ian Saladaga and ex-pro Stephen Padilla. Montana was led by Lamocha with 17, veteran Michael Manigo had 16 and a slew of threading-the-needle feeds, while Canlas and Fernandez added 13 and 12, respectively.
The crowd erupted in frenzy just before the buzzer sounded to end the first half when Lhuillier’s Marlon Basco, another former PBA player, caught the ball on air after a missed jumper and then slammed it home with impunity.
By all indications, the happy days of basketball are here again. (pr)