Air21 Express made its first nine shots in the game and coach Franz Pumaren had a strange feeling that his team will finally break its 14-game losing streak.
The Air21 Express held on to beat Barako Bull, 97-88, in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Sunday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
New recruits Nelbert Omolon, Mark Isip, and Marcus Douthit carried the Express, who lost all 14 of its games in the Philippine Cup playing as the Shopinas.com Clickers.
Omolon and Isip were acquired from the Meralco Bolts before the start of the Commissioner’s Cup, while Douthit, a naturalized Filipino who played for the SMART-Gilas Pilipinas national squad, was signed up to reinforce the team.
Omolon led the way for the Air21 Express with 17 points while also taking the heavy task of guarding Barako Bull import DerMarr Johnson.
Douthit finished with 16 points and 17 rebounds while Isip contributed 10 points.
“The moment he stepped into the practice facilities, the confidence level of the players were lifted to several levels,” said Air21 Express coach Franz Pumaren of Douthit.
“Marcus, and the two new players, Bitoy and Mark isip, gave our team a big boost. Compared to our team last conference, our present team is a big improvement.”
With the Air21 Express making their 11 of their first 12 shots, the team posted an early 31-8 advantage that set the tone for the rout. They built their biggest lead of the game in the second period, 51-25, to take the energy out of Barako Bull.
The Air21 Express shot 45.2% from the field (33-of-73) while holding down the Energy below 40% shooting from the field (31-of-78). Air 21 also played better as a team, dishing out nine more assists than Barako Bull, 18 to nine.
Johnson tried to keep Barako in the game, finishing with 37 points to leaad all scorers.
Air 21 (97) – Omolon 17, Douthit 16, Jazul 15, Sena 13, Isip 10, Escobal 7, Duncil 6, Hubalde 5, Ritualo 5, Espiritu 13, Mirza 0, Faundo 0.
Barako Bull (88) – Johnson 37, Miller 14, Arboleda 12, Najorda 9, Allado 6, Seigle 4, Lanete 2, Pennisi 2, Pena 2, Weinstein 0, Salvador 0, Tubid 0.
Quarterscores: 33-13; 57-36; 77-60; 97-88.