ALASKA continued to recommit to what it does best as it sent Phoenix back to earth with a 103-87 victory to firm up its postseason bid in the PBA Governors’ Cup on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The defense-oriented Aces limited the Fuel Masters, one of the best offensive teams in the tournament, to their lowest output this conference to halt their opponents’ streak of winning five of their last six games.
RJ Jazul and Calvin Abueva led a balanced offensive effort for the Aces, who won for the third straight time to tie the Fuel Masters with a 5-5 win-loss record.
“I feel that we’re back now,” Aces coach Alex Compton said. “The guys have responded and played much better defense.”
The result also clinched for second-running Ginebra the second twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals, and eliminated Star and GlobalPort from contention.
Jazul registered 19 points, six assists, three boards, and two steals, while Abueva added 18 points and 21 caroms to lead six Aces who scored in double figures.
But it was on the defensive end where the Aces did most of their damage as they held the Fuel Masters to 38-percent shooting and forced them to commit 28 turnovers.
The Aces, though, found no answer to Eugene Phelps, who continued to rack up monster numbers with 34 points and 24 boards, but the prolific Phoenix import drew little help as no local scored in twin digits.
Cyrus Baguio registered eight points, three assists, two rebounds, and two steals in 30 minutes in his first game against the Aces after they traded him before the start of the conference.
ALASKA 103 – Jazul 19, Abueva 18, Henton 15, Banchero 11, Thoss 11, Casio 10, Dela Rosa 6, Racal 5, Baclao 4, Galliguez 3, Magat 1, Dela Cruz 0, Exciminiano 0, Hontiveros 0
PHOENIX 87 – Phelps 34, Enciso 9, Urbiztondo 9, Baguio 8, Lee 6, Torres 6, Borboran 5, Cruz 5, Wilson 3, Buenafe 2, Lanete 0, Miranda 0, Pennisi 0, W. Wilson 0, Hayes 0
Quarterscores: 29-23, 51-39, 76-66, 103-87