ALASKA rode Calvin Abueva's second 20-20 game of the season to turn back a tough-fighting KIA Motors side, 85-75, and stay unscathed in the PBA Philippine Cup on Tuesday at the Cuneta Astrodome.
The 6-1 1/2 Abueva was once again a workhorse for the Aces, banging in 23 points and grabbing 21 rebounds against a Sorento side that refused to go away down to the bitter end.
Alaska saw a 16-point lead whittled down to three in the final stretch, but Abueva came away with a steal before scoring six of the team’s last 10 points to secure the Aces’ fifth straight win to start the season.
“Obviously, KIA managed to play with a fighting heart, they got the technical know-how of (KIA assistant coach) Glen Capacio. They (Sorento) just did a fantastic job tonight,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton.
Alaska matched its 5-0 start during the 2013 Commissioner’s Cup, where the team under then coach Luigi Trillo won its first league championship after the Tim Cone era.
Compton, though, was quick to play down the fiery start.
“It’s a good start, but San Mig, 1-5 ata start nila dati pero nag-champion pa. So the goal is not to be undefeated, but the goal is to be better and win the championship,” Compton said.
Compton paid tribute to the Sorento (1-5), who hung tough behind the gallant efforts of Rudy Lingganay, Chito Jaime and rookie big man Kyle Pascual.
“There are certain things we emphasized with Alaska but I felt we didn’t match their intensity. KIA played hard so it’s disappointing, but I’m glad we got out with the win,” said the Alaska coach.
The Aces played without starting center Sonny Thoss, who was nursing a foot injury, but Vic Manuel added 15 and Dondon Hontiveros added 13 to make up for his absence.
KIA, which dropped its fifth straight game after opening the season with an 80-66 win over Blackwater, drew 18 points from Reil Cervantes while Joshua Webb added 13.
Eric Menk scored three points in Thoss' absence.
Alaska 85 - Abueva 23, Manuel 15, Hontiveros 12, Baguio 11, Banchero 7, Jazul 7, Menk 3, Eman 2, Exciminiano 2, Casio 2, Bugia 1, Dela Cruz 0, Dela Rosa 0, Thoss 0.
KIA 75 - Cervantes 18, Webb 13, Pascual 10, Buensuceso 8, Jaime 6, Dehesa 5, Raymundo 4, Lingganay 3, Alvarez 3, Thiele 2, Padilla 2, Sanga 1, Revilla 0, Alonzo 0.