Nio Caaleta has all the tools to dominate in the PBA. At 66, he has the size to be the perfect stretch forward (i.e. a combo forward) in the PBA. With his handles, shooting, and leaping ability, Caaleta is a more versatile scorer than another comparable stretch Arwind Santos, though, admittedly, Santos is better at the dirty work. Theres a reason, after all, that Santos, one of Caaletas old rivals from the UAAP, is at the very top of the PBAs Player Efficiency ladder.
Still, Caaleta has gone a helluva long way from the unsure and inconsistent slotman he was in college. When he was still playing for the UE Red Warriors, he found it difficult getting overshadowed by the likes of FEUs Santos and Mark Isip, Adamsons Ken Bono, and even Ateneos Paolo Bugia and Doug Kramer. He was forced to play center and bang bodies under the boards when he had the skill set of a natural swingman. He was a rare find in local hoops, but he wasnt exactly being maximized.
Now, with a team devoid of the star power prevalent in the PBAs more ballyhooed squads, Caaleta finally has the time of day to really strut his stuff. The 6th overall pick in the 2005 draft currently has the second highest player efficiency rating in Air 21s roster (only Mike Cortez is better). He is averaging a career-high 29 minutes per game, registering, unsurprisingly, his best scoring numbers yet 14.7ppg. Hes also norming nearly 6 rebounds per game for the first time since his sophomore season back in 06-07.
And, get this, those were his numbers BEFORE unloading 41 (yes, FORTY ONE markers) on the hapless Batang Pier to go along with 7 rebounds. With him finally breaking out in the biggest way possible, is Nio Caaleta finally ready to realize his vast potential and rise to the uppermost echelon of stars in the PBA?
Game Recaps: AIR 21 EXPRESS over GLOBAL PORT BATANG PIER, 113-92
KG Canaleta outdueled Gary David in their scoring battle and the athletic swingman towed the Air 21 Express to a 113-92 victory over the GlobalPort Batang Pier Wednesday in the PBA Philippine Cup at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
The 6-foot-6, slam dunking forward set a new career-high with 41 points. He shot a steady 6-for-9 from beyond the arc, grabbed seven rebounds and came up with a highlight reel play that punctuated his big game against David, last seasons scoring champion.
When I got him (KG), I wanted him to prove himself and be considered as one of the top players in the PBA, said Air 21 coach Franz Pumaren. Hes really talented. It was just unfortunate that he played before for teams loaded with star players.
With this game, I hope it would be a springboard for him to play better in the playoffs, added Pumaren, whose team has already matched its total number of victories posted last season when the squad was known as Shopinas.com.
Canaleta set the tone early, scoring 21 points of his total output in the first half, the most scored by any player at the half this season.
With Canaleta catching fire, the Express, too, performed on a high level.
A backbreaking 18-2 run in the third quarter, capped by a jumper from James Sena, turned a close encounter into a rout and gave the Express an 80-59 lead.
The Batang Pier never recovered from there. The team lost its ninth straight game and fell to a 1-12 record.
When we lost the game to Ginebra, everybody was frustrated. Everybody came to practice really determined to bounce back to get ourselves in contention for a playoff spot, said Pumaren.
Good thing theyre out of the race already, but were wary of them and we dont want them to get their momentum because its so hard to play a team when theyre already out. But weve done our job today. We just have to wait depending on Fridays game.
GlobalPort will face San Mig Coffee in its final elimination round schedule on Friday at the MOA Arena.
A21 113- Canaleta 41, Sena 18, Reyes 12, arboleda 8, Omolon 7, Wilson 6, Cortez 5, Ritualo 5, Custodio 4, Isip 4, Andaya 2, Baclao 1, Atkins 0. GLO 92- Al-Hussaini 20, David 16, Manuel 11, Salvador 11, Mandani 8, Guevarra 5, Antonio 5, Yee 4, Miller 4, Lingganay 3, Vanlandingham 3, Vergara 2, Deutchman 0, Crisano 0. QS: 30-31; 60-55; 87-67; 113-92.
ALASKA ACES over PETRON BLAZE BOOSTERS, 79-71
Alaska has built a reputation in the Calvin Abueva era as a defensive, hustling team. Make the Aces the new comeback kids this time as well.
The Aces held the Petron Blaze Boosters to an all-time franchise low six points in the fourth quarter to complete a hard-earned come-from-behind victory on Wednesday night in the PBA Philippine Cup at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
Down by 21 points in the closing minute of the third period, the Aces willed themselves to victory behind the efforts of JVee Casio, Abueva and Cyrus Baguio.
Casio and Abueva have recently returned from sick bay.
But neither injuries nor the Boosters could keep these Aces from spurring their team to a huge comeback win.
There were injuries all around, but these guys just willed themselves to victory. I was kind of quiet during the huddle and going through the motions, but guys just dont want to quit, said Alaska coach Luigi Trillo.
The Boosters were held down to only a single field goal for nearly nine minutes and saw their lead chopped down by repeated Alaska uprisings.
Arwind Santos broke the silence for the Boosters with a jumper, giving his squad a 69-63 lead.
JVee Casio scored on a triple to push the Aces within three, 69-66, but Chris Lutz had a jumper from the right corner.
That was the end of the line for the Boosters, though, who failed to score in the next 2:43 of the match and watched as the Aces scored the next 13 points.
Overall, the Boosters shot a measly 3-of-18 from the field (16.7%).
ALA 79- Baguio 20, Abueva 12, Casio 12, Hontiveros 10, Thoss 8, Espinas 7, Reyes 3, Baracael 3, Eman 2, Dela Cruz 2, Jazul 0, Laure 0, Belasco 0. PET 71- Lassiter 14, Santos 13, Cabagnot 11, Fajardo 10, Yeo 9, Miranda 8, Lutz 4, Ildefonso 2, Washington 0, Pena 0. QS: 19-25, 29-41, 46-65, 79-71.
Source: Unless otherwise specified, game recaps were compressed and compiled from InterAKTV. (Writing credit to Rey Joble.)
Blatche Andray 211-F/C-86 Xinjiang FT Jayson Castro William 180-PG-86 Talk N Text Gabe Norwood 196-G/F-85 Rain or Shine June Mar Fajardo 210-C-89 San Miguel Beermen Japeth Aguilar 206-C-85 Barangay Ginebra Ranidel deOcampo 197-F-81 Talk N Text Terrence Bill Romeo 180-PG-92&... [read more]
TURKEY over PHILIPPINES, 103-68 Turkey got the more than easy 103-68 win over Philippines in their preparation game in Istanbul. The two teams may face each other in the pre-Olympic qualifying tournament in Manila, Philippines, as they start their games in different groups and if this game can be considered a sample, Turkey is at least in much better condition. Center Semih Erden and forward Baris Hersek with 16 points each were the top scorers of the winners. Furkan Korkmaz who is expe... [read more]
TURKEY over PHILIPPINES, 103-68 Turkey got the more than easy 103-68 win over Philippines in their preparation game in Istanbul.
The two teams may face each other in the pre-Olympic qualifying tournament in Manila, Philippines, as they start their games in different groups and if this game can be considered a sample, Turkey is at least in much better condition.
Center Semih Erden and forward Baris Hersek with 16 points each were the top scorers of the winners. Furkan Korkmaz who is expected to hear his name in the first round of the upcoming NBA draft, returned to Turkey and scored 5 points. Andray Blatche had 23 points for the losing side and Jayson Williams added 15 points.
ITALY over PHILIPPINES, 106-70 Italy got an easy win over Philippines in the first day of the preparation tournament in Bologna. The final score was 106-70 for the hosts and it was flattering for the guests who were trailing 62-15 before the half time.
The first 20 minutes of action ended with a 41 points advantage for Italy (64-23) which got 20 points by Danilo Gallinari in 15 minutes of action, 14 points by Pietro Aradori who came from the bench and 11 by Marco Bellineli.
Philippines was outplayed in every possible way and Andray Blatche with 21 points was as usual the only brightspot for them.
With the two conferences of the Philippine Basketball Association's (PBA) done with the San Miguel Beermen overcoming the odds from a 3-0 deficit in the finals to win the Philippine Cup title in seven games against the Alaska Aces and the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters ruling the Commissioner's Cup against the same Aces, another conference is shaping to be one of the most competitive tournaments in recent memory. Returning imports showcases the upcoming Governor's Cup which will have its... [read more]
With the two conferences of the Philippine Basketball Association's (PBA) done with the San Miguel Beermen overcoming the odds from a 3-0 deficit in the finals to win the Philippine Cup title in seven games against the Alaska Aces and the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters ruling the Commissioner's Cup against the same Aces, another conference is shaping to be one of the most competitive tournaments in recent memory.
Returning imports showcases the upcoming Governor's Cup which will have its tip-off on July 15.
Asian imports will also be featured in this conference led by the returning Michel Madanly (194-G-81) for the Texters. Phoenix had tapped the services of 6-foot-3 Korean Lee Kwan Hee to bolster its guard-forward rotation.
Here are the complete lineup of reinforcements for all contending teams:
Aris Ignacio is from the Philippines and has always been a big fan of Philippine basketball. Aris' follows the Philippine Basketball Association since the late 80's and has learned the history and personalities of the PBA. He also has interest with other basketball tournaments in the Philippines and beyond most specifically college basketball (UAAP, NCAA), the Asian Basketball League (ABL), FIBA Asia and World Cup tournaments. Follow Aris Ignacio on Twitter at aris_ignacio.
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