Air 21 drops GlobalPort for second win
|Air21's Michael Dunigan (33) drives against GlobalPort's Japeth Aguilar (25) and Willie Miller (11) during their PBA Commissioner's Cup game Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com|
MANILA, Philippines - Michael Dunigan showed up debuting Globalport import Walter Sharpe and overpowered other Globalport defenders as he came through with a huge double-double game to power the Air21 Express past the Batang Pier, 106-94, in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Dunigan, averaging 25.33 points and 15.6 rebounds a game, raised the level of his game notches higher, piling up 35 markers and 20 boards (the first 30-point and 20-rebound game in the season) to lead the Express to their first win in their last six games.
The Express hit the halfway mark of the elimination round with a 2-5 slate, bumping off the Batang Pier (2-6) at seventh place.
“Finally, everything fell into place, and we got a win easing the pain of our disappointing losses in our previous losses,” said Air21 coach Franz Pumaren.
“Puro sayang (All near misses), especially the last game. Good thing, Michael was able to recover from his booboo (in the last game against Meralco Wednesday),” Pumaren added.
After a triumphant conference debut versus the Barangay Ginebra Kings, the Express dropped their next five assignments against the Talk n Text Tropang Texters, the Barako Bull Energy, the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, the Petron Blaze Boosters and the Bolts by an average margin of only 3.6 points.
While the Express checked their slump, the Batang Pier stayed on a skid, suffering a fourth straight loss.
Inspired by the presence of his mother Pearlie on the Air21 gallery, Dunigan dealt the Batang Pier much damage, sending Japeth Aguilar and Jondan Salvador to an early exit on fouls. Sharpe also proved no match to the bullstrong Air21 import, cramping out in the fourth quarter.
“She’s the one pushing Michael,” said Pumaren of Mrs. Dunigan.
Dunigan punished Globalport hardest with Aguilar, Salvador and Sharpe gone, scoring 10 points in the last five minutes.
Nino Canaleta and Wynne Arboleda hit crucial baskets of their own, making it easier for the Express to close out the game.
Arboleda, Mark Isip and Mike Cortez put in double-digit outputs while Canaleta, John Wilson and Nelbert Omolon added at least eight points in a balanced Air21 scoring failed to match by the Batang Pier.
Sharpe logged 24 points and nine rebounds in his PBA debut while David added 20 markers on 14-of-19 free throws and 3-of-9 field goals.
Mark Caguioa sizzled with five three-pointers and a total of 25 points and Vernon Macklin put on a display of power slams and finished with 20 points and 16 rebounds as Barangay Ginebra upended San Mig Coffee, 96-88, in the nightcap.
“It’s nice to beat the champions who are a very strong team. They’re taller, bigger but the guys played with heart,” said coach Alfrancis Chua as his troops stopped the Mixers (3-4) and thus stayed abreast with the Express at 2-5.