After going 0 for 14 in the All-Filipino Cup, the Air 21 Express (formerly Shopinas.com) finally find its winning grove. Maybe, the name has some kind of effect. Maybe, the presence of Naturalized import Marcus Douthit brought the winning attitude. Whatever it is, the win gave many people behind the Lina franchise a big sigh of relief specially Coach Franz Pumaren. It doe not matter if the win is at the expense of sister team Barako Bull. Right from the first quarter, the Express were lights out as they lead by 20 after first 12 minutes of the game. Barako Bull tried to rally in final canto but the gap was to big to overcome.
Douthit finished with 16 points and 7 rebounds. His scoring is quiet low for imports but he got ample support from the locals led by Nelbert Omolon, RJ Jazul, James Sena, and Mark Isip who all scored in double digits and combined for 55 points. Dermarr Johnson had a 37 point night for Barako Bull but he did not get much local support as only Willie Miller (14) and Wynne Arboleda (12) scored more than 10 markers. The win gave the Express a perfect start of the new conference while Barako fell to 1-2.
The main game had a similar story with the first game as the Boosters ended a 2 game slide (5 game losing streak if we include last conference’s semifinals) with a victory over sister team B-Meg Llamados. The loss also ended the Llamados’ 2 game winning run. Petron made a strong run in the first quarter to lead by 13 in the first 12 minutes. They practically held on to the lead for the rest of the game.
Import Nicholas Fazekas had 23 points, 16 caroms, and 4 swats to lead the Boosters. Arwind Santos had a double-double with 10 points, 14 rebounds along with 3 blocks. Joseph Yeo, Alex Cabagnot, and Dennis Miranda also finished in double figures. The Llamados were led by Denzel Bowles’ 22 points-10 rebounds performance.James Yap and Peter June Simon are the only locals who made more than 10 markers. The Llamados wasted many opportunities to come back has they only shot 50% (12-24) from the free throw line while Petron made 16 of 22. The Boosters improved their record to 1-2 while the Llamados fell to 1-2.