Kiefer Ravena-less Mighty Sports flaunts depth in big win

Even without top guards Kiefer Ravena and TY Tang, Mighty Sports still proved too hot to handle for Foton on Friday night, hacking out a 104-89 victory to stay unbeaten in the 2016 PCBL Chairman’s Cup at the Marikina Sports Center.

Former RP Youth standout Gab Banal flirted with a triple-double of 22 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists while Nigerian center Bright Akhuetie dominated with 19 markers, as many rebounds and 5 blocks to help Mighty Sports overcome the absence of their prized backcourt duo and another sluggish start.

“We were too complacent in the first half,” rued Mighty Sports coach Mike Fermin as his wards trailed by as many as 10 points in the 2nd canto. “Siguro nakita nila 10 lang ‘yung players ng kabila. Tapos nagkaroon rin kami ng lapses sa depensa.”

But when Mighty Sports buckled down to work starting in the third canto, the Toplander failed to keep in step, leading to their 2nd straight loss and 3rd overall against a pair of wins.

Ravena, a two-time UAAP MVP, was still in the United States following his personal training in Las Vegas while Tang, a former Rain or Shine mainstay, was attending to a more pressing commitment.

Cedrick Ablaza and Levi Hernandez tallied 18 markers each while forward Ed Rivera scattered 17 markers, 7 rebounds and as many assists but Foton struggled to respond big time when Mighty Sports stepped on the gas after the break.

Mac Montilla knocked down 8 of his 12 markers in a decisive run in the third, spiked by a pair of triples, while teaming up with Banal and Akhuetie as they zoomed to a quick 67-58 lead.

Adrian Celada joined the fray in the 4th period, canning 9 of his 11 markers while helping Mighty Sports build its biggest lead at 90-73, virtually sealing the deal with still more than 4 minutes to play.

Fermin admitted their team management is pulling out all the stops to formally sign University of Santo Tomas star Kevin Ferrer, with their rivals also boosting their respective lineups.

“Gusto pa namin magkaroon ng another stretch-4 para sina Gab at Adrian magamit namin sa wing. Besides, nagpapalakas na rin talaga ‘yung ibang teams,” said Fermin. – By Jerome Lagunzad

The scores:

Mighty Sports (104) — Banal 22, Akhuetie 19, Montilla 12, Celeda 11, Regalado 10, M. Bringas 9, Mangahas 6, Melocoton 5, Villafranca 4, A. Bringas 3, Lopez 2, Suano 1, Oktubre 0, Abad 0.

Foton (89) — Ablaza 18, Hernandez 18, Rivera 17, Moraga 10, Gomez 9, Reyes 7, Ncapil 6, Ouattara 4, Penaflor 0, Enriquez 0.

Quarterscores: 23-23; 47-49; 75-64; 104-89.