ERIK Menk played a key role on offense and defense to lead third seed Alaska to an 82-78 victory over NLEX on Thursday and into the next phase of the quarterfinal round of the PBA Philippine Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Menk scored only eight points in the game but had four in Alaska’s closing 13-9 run, enough for the Aces to hold off the Road Warriors and move on to another knockout match againsty either Meralco or Purefoods.
More importantly, Menk led Alaska’s bigs in holding NLEX star Asi Taulava to a quiet 10 points.
“It was just a defensive battle,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton. “The biggest thing sa akin is NLEX is a good offensive team. Hindi kami mananalo sa offense. I think it’s another case of defense working for us against a team that good.”
NLEX had just tied the game at 69-all when a brief 5-0 counter-attack capped by a Menk jumper got Alaska ahead for good, 74-69. Menk hit another short stab against Taulava to make it 76-72, with 3:40 left in the game.
JVee Casio scored a lay-up off a perfectly executed inbound play with 10.1 seconds left to seal the win.
Vic Manuel tallied 13 points to lead all Alaska scorers while Cyrus Baguio and Casio chipped in 11 points. Dondon Hontiveros added 10.
Aldrech Ramos scored 17 points for the Road Warriors, who were eliminated in their maiden conference in the PBA. NLEX trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half before its comeback.
Alaska (82) – Manuel 13, Baguio 11, Casio 11, Hontiveros 10, Menk 8, Dela Cruz 8, Banchero 6, Thoss 6, Abueva 5, Dela Rosa 2, Jazul 2, Eman 0, Exciminiano 0.
NLEX (78)—Ramos 17, Borboran 13, Cardona 12, Lingganay 11, Taulava 10, Camson 6, Canaleta 5, Raymundo 2, E. Villanueva 2, J. Villanueva 0, H. Arboleda 0, W. Arboleda 0.
Quarterscores: 26-17, 49-38, 63-58, 82-78.