ALASKA played with grace under pressure and survived a late Ginebra rally, 86-80, to keep its winning streak going in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Wednesday night.
Import Shane Edwards teamed up with Calvin Abueva in silencing the pro-Ginebra crowd at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum, but it was gunner RJ Jazul who did the most damage at a time when the Kings were in the midst of a fiery endgame comeback.
The shooting guard out of Letran nailed a pressure-packed three-pointer that pushed the Aces’ lead back to 82-78, and then nailed two free throws in the waning seconds that all but sealed the outcome of the match, 84-80, witnessed by a modest weekday crowd of 9,000.
Jazul scored the Aces' last seven points after the Kings engineered a comeback from 11-points down to threaten at 79-78 inside the final two-minute mark.
“RJ is the premier shooter in the league,” acknowledged winning coach Alex Compton of his shooting guard out of Letran.
Edwards finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds, while Calvin Abueva added 17 and nine rebounds and helped limit Ginebra import Othyus Jeffers to just 21 points on 7-of-25 shooting.
Compton acknowledged Abueva for his work on Jeffers, although he still credited the entire Aces for holding down the high-scoring import.
“He’s a great player and he’s unbelievably tough. To have us defend him that well gave me a sigh of relief and made me happy,” said the Alaska mentor.
Greg Slaughter topscored for Ginebra with 28 points, including 22 in the first half when he tried to hold the fort for the Kings as Jeffers struggled with his shooting woes.
But the Ginebra import came to life in the second half and took the cudgels for the team as it rallied from as much as a 59-45 deficit.
He later anchored a 10-0 Kings run to push Ginebra within a point, 79-78, entering the stretch run, before Jazul took over for the Aces, who won for the fourth straight game after losing their opening assignment against Blackwater.
The Kings lost for the first time after stringing three straight wins for an even 3-3 mark.
Alaska (86) -- Edwards 25, Abueva 17, Jazul 16, Thoss 10, Baguio 7, Manuel 5, Banchero 2, Exciminiano 2, Hontiveros 2, Casio 0, Dela Rosa 0, Eman 0, Menk 0.
Ginebra (80) -- Slaughter 28, Jeffers 21, Aguilar 10, Devance 10, Tenorio 4, Ellis 3, Cruz 2, Thompson 2, Caguioa 0, Helterbrand 0, Marcelo 0, Mercado 0.
Quarterscores: 20-25; 42-39; 67-62; 86-80.