In the first round of ESPN5.com's PBA Fantasy Tournament, top seed Carlo took down eighth-seeded Paolo to face Charlie who defeated Noel. The other side of the bracket will have no. 2 Eros squaring off against no. 7 JC, with the winner facing the winner of no. 3 Philip vs. no. 6 Chuck. We tapped guest analyst and PBA historian Jay P. Mercado to analyze and determine the winners of the remaining quarterfinal matchups.
First impressions (Team Eros vs. Team JC)
Eros had the #2 pick in the all-time draft and used this to draft "The Franchise" Ramon Fernandez. In the second round, at #15, he then secured Nelson Asaytono, bolstering a solid frontline. From there, he built a team around the two with bombers Atoy Co and Marcio Lassiter, an Ateneo backcourt of Olsen Racela and LA Tenorio, and forward Arwind Santos. With the 7th pick in the import draft, Eros got two-time Best Import awardee, Derrick Brown.
JC badly wanted to get Allan Caidic for his team and got his chance when the Triggerman was still available at #7. With the #10 pick, he got big man Danny Ildefonso and then surrounded the two with bigs Eric Menk and Marlou Aquino, point guard Ronnie Magsanoc, and swingmen Gary David and Mark Cardona. For the import, JC plucked Mr. 100% Norman Black as the second overall pick.
The game recap
Team JC started out like a house on fire, with Caidic and Magsanoc making 3 consecutive treys in a 9-0 run after Derrick Brown scored the first two points of the game. Leaning more on their outside game, Caidic and Magsanoc roamed around the court to find their sweet spots, courtesy of the bone-crunching picks of Black, Menk and Ildefonso to expand the lead, 24-11. Fernandez then went to work, scoring in various ways, an elegant shot from 16 feet, a breakaway layup from Menk's defense, and an and-one play off a foul by Black. The quarter ended at 28-24.
A shooting battle occurred in the second when Caidic and Lassiter traded 3 consecutive treys each, wowing the crowd with their pinpoint accuracy. No team established control of the game as the defense tightened. Both teams opted to slow the game down, and by the end of the half, the scoreline read 53-51 in favor of Team JC.
Black and Ildefonso collaborated for 16 points halfway into the 3rd quarter to pad the lead, 75-62. Magsanoc was called for his 4th foul and Team JC struggled without a backup PG, allowing Team Eros to speed up the game. With Brown, Tenorio and Asaytono, they were able to seize control and bring the deficit down to two by the end of the 3rd, 82-80.
Problems continued to hound Team JC when Magsanoc was called for his 5th foul early in the 4th, forcing Black to act as point. Team Eros went on a crippling 21-8 run to establish a 15-point lead, 107-92 with less than 4 minutes left. Magsanoc came back and immediately nailed two treys, stole off Racela and fed Caidic with a corner trey to immediately cut the lead to six. Fernandez then scored off a difficult stepback move off Black, then threw an outlet pass to Co for an easy layup. Black then scored five straight points but Brown made tow of his own, Team Eros ahead, 113-106. Timely shots from Fernandez and Co allowed Team Eros to escape with a 121-117 victory.
Fernandez led the scoring for Team Eros with 23 points, 11 boards and 12 dimes in a solid all-around effort. Brown had 20, while Co, Lassiter, Asaytono and Santos chipped in 19, 17, 16 and 12 points, respectively. Caidic led all scorers with 38, spiked by 8 treys, while Black put in 31 and 23 caroms, and Magsanoc had 28 and 12 assists.
With Fernandez providing leadership, it was the balanced scoring of Team Eros that led to victory. 6 players scored in twin digits while Team JC relied heavily on 3 players to provide the scoring. Coach Eros was able to maximize his players, providing them with enough rest in preparation for the endgame. Caidic and Magsanoc exploded from beyond the arc, converting 13 treys among themselves alone.
Menk and Ildefonso struggled in stopping Fernandez but it was also because of Magsanoc's foul trouble and absence of another point guard that sealed the deal for Team Eros.