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PBA Fantasy Tournament: Bates explodes for 51 to lead Team Philip to semis

ESPN5

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 Philip vs. Team Chuck)

Philip used his 3rd overall draft pick to select 4-time MVP Alvin Patrimonio. In the second round, he opted for his namesake, Philip Cezar, at #14 overall, fortifying his power forward position. His backcourt is imposing with Gilas mainstays Jayson Castro and Paul Lee manning the point, while Meneses, Norwood and Caguioa filled the wings. Picking 6th overall for the imports, Philip was fortunate to get the "Black Superman" Billy Ray Bates.

Like Philip, Chuck was surprised to see Robert Jaworski available at #6 overall and immediately grabbed him. He then plucked Asi Taulava as the 11th overall pick, and made sure he had adequate backup in the interior with Marc Pingris and Ranidel de Ocampo. To back up Jaworski at the backcourt are gunners Ato Agustin and Terrence Romeo and then used his 3rd pick in the import draft to snatch Justin Brownlee.

The game recap

The game was high-octane as both teams opted to run at every given opportunity. Because of their height handicap, Bates had to help out Patrimonio and Cezar inside as Taulava and Brownlee were getting the lion's share of the boards. Bates was extremely efficient, scoring 18 of Team Philip's 38 first quarter points, including 8 off transition, to build a slight 3-point edge, 38-35. Taulava was dominant inside the paint, bullying his way to 12 points to lead Team Chuck.

The second quarter was a replication of the first, with Team Philip in control of the tempo but Team Chuck showing resiliency and better teamwork. Brownlee dumped five straight points to cut the deficit to three, 66-63, but Bates racked up nine straight points to establish their biggest lead, 75-63. The half ended at 79-71 after a drive by Jaworski and kicking out to an open Romeo in the corner for a trey.

Chuck made a defensive adjustment in the second half, putting Brownlee on Bates after Pingris struggled to keep up while Duremdes' offense suffered trying to contain the 6'3 import. Jaworski also tried slowing the game down to mitigate Bates' transition plays. He set up Brownlee and made Taulava work more inside. Team Chuck was able to overhaul the deficit as they became more efficient on offense, making 12 of 17 in the quarter, and cutting the lead down to four, 106-102 after a Paul Lee three.

With Bates opting to pace himself for the final salvo, Patrimonio, Meneses and Castro picked up the offensive cudgels for Team Philip. The Captain barreled his way inside the paint while Cezar went for stretch layups over the outstretched arms of Taulava. Castro knocked down a trey that jacked up the lead once more, 127-120, with two minutes and change.

Agustin and Jaworski knocked down a trey each to cut the lead to one, 127-126. Meneses gave a nifty pass inside to Cezar to give them a 3-point cushion. Brownlee made a jumper, but Bates came back with a clutch trey, padding the lead to four, 132-128. Jaworski wasted no time and made a court-to-court baseball pass to a streaking Brownlee while Team Philip was celebrating, cutting the lead to half, 132-130, with 7 seconds remaining. Bates was fouled by Castro in the next play and coolly sank both free throws, sealing the victory for Team Philip, 134-130.

Bates tallied 51 points spiked by 7 treys in a phenomenal offensive showcase. Patrimonio had 23 and Meneses tallied 22. Brownlee led Team Chuck with 28 points while Taulava had 25 and 17 boards and Jaworski had a triple-double of 23 markers, 11 rebounds and 16 assists.

Post-game thoughts

Bates remains to be the yardstick among all imports in their prime. Virtually unstoppable, the Black Superman proved unstoppable as Team Chuck's roster has no one to contain him. Castro, who had 11 dimes, mostly on Bates, made sure the 6'3 import got the ball at the right place.

Taulava used his height and strength inside to get his points while Jaworski displayed his all-around wizardry, underscoring his ability to dominate the game even in the presence of imports. Pingris and RDO struggled picking up Bates even if they were taller, simply because the import played from the outside and used his quickness to leave his defenders.