ALASKA ended its miserable PBA Governors Cup campaign on a positive note, blasting Air21, 110-80, on Wednesday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Jason Forte knocked in 26 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, and dished out six assists to lead the Aces, who bowed out with a 2-7 (win-loss) record.
The Aces built leads of as much as 37 points, 93-56, after a Brandon Cablay triple 12 seconds into the fourth quarter of a game featuring the two worst teams of the conference.
The 30-point victory was the biggest winning margin for the tournament, eclipsing Meralco’s 106-77 win over Air21 last June 20.
It was also Alaska’s biggest victory in seven years since routing Barangay Ginebra on October 19, 2005, 102-72.
Cyrus Baguio played a major role when the Aces pulled away early on. The high-flying guard waxed hot with 16 first-half points on a perfect 4-for-4 shooting from downtown. He finished with 24 markers.
“It was a collective team effort,” Aces coach Luigi Trillo said. “We moved the ball well and our shots started to fall.”
The Aces shot 36.4 percent from the field in their last two games, but improved to 52.6 percent on this night.
After coming through with seven straight outings of at least 30 points each, highlighted by a 51-point explosion in their 128-121 upset of Powerade, Air21 import Zachary Graham finally cooled off against the Aces.
Graham still came away with 25 points, but his production was well below his 39-point scoring average going into the game.
“There’s a tendency to have a different mindset coming off a big win,” Trillo said. “I thought we took them away from their strength.”
Ren Ren Ritualo had 11 points to finish as the only other double-digit scorer for the Express, who fell to 2-6.
Despite the win, the Aces finished the season with an 11-24 win-loss mark, their first sub-.500 record since 1993 when they finished with an 18-21 (.462) record.
“If there’s somebody to blame, it’s me,” said the young mentor who took over the coaching chores from veteran Joel Banal at the start of the conference.
“As a coach, I need to bring the best out of my players and find ways to motivate them but I haven’t done that consistently.”
ALASKA (110) -- Forte 26, Baguio 24, Tenorio 19, Thoss 10, Cablay 9, Espinas 8, Baracael 4, Dela Cruz 4, Jazul 3, Eman 3, Thiele 0, Bugia 0, Gelig 0.
AIR21 (80) -- Graham 25, Ritualo 11, Arboleda 9, Escobal 7, Faundo 6, Isip 6, Omolon 6, Sison 4, Menor 4, Espiritu 2, Bagatsing 0, Sena 0, Hubalde 0.
Quarterscores: 32-15, 56-32, 90-56, 110-80