ANTIPOLO - A shorthanded Alaska recommitted to the defensive end of the floor to snap its skid in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup with an 82-68 victory over Blackwater on Wednesday at Ynares Center.
After allowing opponents to score 98.3 points in their last three games, the Aces held the Elite to their measly output to put an end to a three-game losing streak.
The Aces registered just their third win in eight games to stay alive in the playoff race, while dropping their victims to the bottom after the expansion team absorbed a seventh loss in nine games.
“We played better defense, but I still feel like we’re a long way to go,” said Aces coach Alex Compton, whose team is coming off a finals appearance in the Philippine Cup. “It’s a step at the right direction. But we’re far from the top.”
Alaska import Damion James shone offensively, scoring all but one of the Aces’ last nine points that allowed them to establish a sizeable cushion that kept the Elite at bay.
In all, the NBA veteran tallied 29 points on top of 22 rebounds and two assists in 40 minutes as he finally led the Aces to victory since he replaced DJ Covington.
Chris Banchero, fresh from participating in two side events in the All-Star weekend, chipped in 12 points in 22 minutes off the bench as the rookie point guard stepped up in the absence of JVee Casio, who’s still recovering from surgery that repaired a broken nose.
Elite import Marcus Douthit churned out all-around numbers of 21 points, 15 boards, seven blocks, three assists, and two steals, but top locals Brian Heruela and Bryan Faundo combined for just nine points on 4-of-14 shooting.
The Aces, as a unit, actually shot worse than the Elite, making just 27 of their 77 attempts for a 35-percent clip, but they made more free throws with 23, 11 more than Blackwater converted.
As a result, the Aces led all the way and posted their biggest advantage at 81-62 after James converted a three-point play.
ALASKA 82 – James 29, Banchero 12, Exciminiano 10, Hontiveros 9, Abueva 7, Manuel 5, Thoss 4, Espinas 3, Jazul 3, Eman 0, Baguio 0, Dela Rosa 0, Dela Cruz 0
BLACKWATER 68 – Douthit 21, Reyes 11, Gamalinda 11, Laure 8, Heruela 5, Salvacion 5, Faundo 4, Bulawan 2, Golla 1, Erram 0, Celiz 0, Acuna 0, Ballesteros 0, Timberlake 0, Canada 0
Quarterscores: 18-12, 41-33, 60-49, 82-68