A RELENTLESS Alaska squad brought grand slam champion Purefoods Star back to earth with an emphatic 93-73 victory in the two teams' PBAPhilippine Cup debut on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Flamboyant forward Calvin Abueva led the way with 21 points for an Alaska side that piled up points both in half-court sets and in the transition while unleashing a full-court press that forced most of Purefoods' 24 turnovers.
Alaska coach Alex Compton, however, was quick to play down the Aces' fiery start to the season, saying they only took advantage of the absence of Purefoods star March Pingris who is still on leave after playing for Gilas Pilipinas in the Fiba World Cup and Asian Games during the offseason.
“They (Hotshots) are a great team. They have the best coach in the league. I mean that, but the No. 1 energy guy I’ve seen possibly in PBA history is Marc Pingris, pero wala siya,” said Compton.
“Malaking bagay talaga sa kanila si Ping, pero since wala siya, some of our bigs went to take advantage of that.”
Making matters worse for Purefoods was the loss of young power forward Ian Sangalang, who suffered a injury after landing awkwardly on his right knee midway through the third quarter.
In contrast, Alaska was never short of heroes.
Vic Manuel fell one rebound short of a double-double after contributing 11 points and nine boards. RJ Jazul also added 11 while Sonny Thoss chipped in nine and 13 rebounds.
Two-time league MVP James Yap led the Hotshots with 16 points, but he only scored four in the second half.
ALASKA 93 - Abueva 21, Manuel 11, Jazul 11, Thoss 9, Hontiveros 9, Casio 9, Baguio 6, Bugia 6, Banchero 5, Eman 2, Dela Cruz 2, Dela Rosa 2, Exciminiano 0.
PUREFOODS 73 - Yap 16, Taha 10, Simon 10, Barroca 6, Devance 6, Maliksi 5, Matias 5, Melton 4, Mallari 4, Reavis 3, Holstein 3, Sangalang 1, Gaco 0.
Quarterscores: 16-16, 43-29, 68-51, 93-73