Ginebra opens PBA season with big win

Displaying its renewed run-and-gun offense at its finest, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel gave debuting GlobalPort a rude welcome, cruising to a 110-90 victory Sunday while sending an ominous warning to the rest of the field as the 38th PBA Philippine Cup got going at the jampacked Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

Before a well-entertained 18,901-strong crowd, reigning league MVP Mark Caguioa tallied 18 points to lead five other teammates with at least 11 markers as the Gin Kings quickly proved they’re a prime title contender this season, banking on their quickness and athleticism to the hilt.

Long-limbed Rico Maierhofer, who along with center Billy Mamaril scattered 14 points each, came up big in the crunch while rookies Keith Jensen and Chris Ellis combined for 25 markers and do-it-all forward Rudy Hatfield added 11 for Ginebra, which is bidding to snap a four-year title drought.

"I'm happy we got over this game," said Ginebra coacgh Siot Tanquingcen. "Alam n'yo na, opening day, somehow maraming distractions. We had to get off on the right foot and we did."

Despite scoring just two points, heady playmaker LA Tenorio, acquired in a blockbuster in the off-season, still shone as he served as the team’s glue-guy, hauling down nine big rebounds while also issuing 10 dimes.

“Mas komportable ako sa role ko ngayon. Hindi naman talaga ako scorer at gusto ko lang maging happy mga teammates ko,” stated Tenorio, the reigning Jones Cup MVP with Smart-Gilas Pilipinas 2.0.

“Last Friday lang ako nakapag-full practice kaya medyo nahihirapan ako mag-adjust. Nangangapa nga ako nu’n first half. Buti na lang supportive ang mga teammates ko at nagtwiala silang makukuha ko ang laro ko.”

Former two-time MVP Willie Miller poured in 26 points while guard Rudy Lingganay contributed 14 markers–including the Batang Pier’s first 12–but three-time scoring champion Gary David was limited to just nine, no thanks to the Gin Kings’ suffocating defense.

Speeding up the pace, Ginebra ripped the game wide-open with a 16-4 charge, posting its early big lead at 48-30 off a Tenorio bucket before gaining a 55-39 cushion at the break.

Playing unselfishly, the Gin Kings kept the Batang Pier at bay, with Caguioa buckling down to work offensively–highlighted by a lay-up off a cross-over move against rookie Bogs Raymundo–to give them a 71-47 bubble.

After holding an 86-64 lead after three quarters and a 92-73 early in the fourth, the Gin Kings started to cool off and the Batang Pier pounced on, racking up 13 unanswered points capped by a David pull-up triple to inch within 86-94 with 5:19 left.

Maierhofer, however, made the Batang Pier pay heavy price for failing to protect the glass, coming up with five straight points to spark the Gin Kings’ 16-4 finishing kick.

"He’s (Maierhofer) starting to take more of the load, taking a bigger role dito," stated Tanquingcen. "It's crucial. That's the main reason na kahit medyo injured siya last year kinuha pa rin namin siya. That's what we were foreseeing and tonight he validated our trust in him."
The scores:
GINEBRA 110 – Caguioa 18, Maierhofer 14, Mamaril 14, Jensen 13, Ellis 12, Hatfield 11, Raymundo 8, Maliksi 7, Helterbrand 5, Cortez 4, Tenorio 2, Wilson 2.
GLOBAL PORT 90 – Miller 26, Lingganay 14, Mandani 13, David 9, Vanlandingham 7, Salvador 7, Al-Hussaini 4, Raymundo 2, Manuel 2, Deutchman 2, Guevarra 2, Yee 2, Adducul 0, Cruz 0.
Quarterscores: 26-20, 55-39, 86-64, 110-90