CALVIN Abueva and RJ Jazul delivered in the clutch as the duo lifted Alaska to a pulsating 97-91 overtime victory over hard luck Air21 in Wednesday night’s main game of the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Abueva, who struggled to start the season-opening conference, erupted for 19 points, including a three-point play off Vic Manuel that gave the Aces the breathing room they needed, 93-89, with 1:18 to go in the extra period.
After Manuel managed to score on a running jumper off a Joseph Yeo feed, Jazul went on to seal the game with two pressure-packed free throws in the final 22 seconds and help Alaska snap a two-game losing skein.
The Aces improved to 2-3 overall, while keeping the Express still winless in five outings.
“Three straight tough games for us. But it was nice to battle and compete and find ways to win,” said Alaska coach Luigi Trillo after the hard-fought game.
“Give credit to Air21. They played quality basketball as well.”
Trillo said he was particularly happy with the way the 6-foot-1 Abueva played under control against the Express.
“It’s nice to see Calvin in his flow because in the first two games, medyo gigil siya with his fouls. Today he was there till the end,” he added.
Also providing the much-needed spark off the bench was rookie guard Chris Eximiniano, who pumped in a PBA career-best 16 points, including a perfect four-of-four stint from beyond the arc.
“Ping (Eximiniano’s nickname) came in and changed the game for us. Guys were down and we needed a lift. I think he had four three-point shots,” said Trillo.
Air21 drew 22 points from Nino Canaleta while Manuel finished with 20.
Yeo, the team’s leading scorer, was held down to just four points on 1-of-8 shooting in the game.
Alaska (97) -- Abueva 19, Exciminiano 16, Jazul 13, Espinas 11, Thoss 10, Casio 7, Baguio 7, Dela Cruz 6, Belasco 4, Ramos 4, Hontiveros 0, Eman 0.
Air21 (91) -- Canaleta 22, Manuel 20, Custodio 13, Cardona 12, Espiritu 10, Taulava 5, Yeo 4, Sharma 4, Jaime 1, Arboleda 0, Ritualo 0, Camson 0.
Quarterscores: 9-16; 26-29; 52-49; 80-80 (reg); 97-91.