ALASKA took its foot off the gas pedal for a while, but still reached its destination as it turned back NLEX, 89-81, to book a quarterfinal ticket in the Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup on Friday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Aces were on cruise control most of the match, but needed to weather a late rally by the Road Warriors to pull off a fourth straight victory and sixth overall in seven games to take the solo lead in the 12-team standings.
“I wasn’t really happy with our decisions in the fourth … and I could’ve taken timeouts at different times to stop the bleeding, but I really want our guys to learn on the fly and grow,” Aces coach Alex Compton said.
Sonny Thoss showed the way with 16 points and 10 boards in another balanced effort for Alaska, which put a halt to the NLEX’s two-game winning streak as the latter absorbed a third setback in seven games.
Sean Anthony fired 14 of his 21 points in the payoff period as he led the Road Warriors’ comeback that fell short.
Forwards Vic Manuel and Calvin Abueva provided the energy anew, combining for 21 points, 19 boards, and six blocks.
Sean Anthony fired 14 of his 21 points as he led the Road Warriors’ comeback that fell short.
NLEX trailed by as many as 20 points in in third quarter, but closed the gap in the payoff period, highlighted by a 9-0 run, capped by five straight points from Rico Villanueva to come to within 82-78.
JVee Casio, however, buried a dagger left-wing triple that doused the fightback and proved to be the final nail in the coffin.
Alaska 89 - Thoss 16, Dela Rosa 11, Manuel 11, Abueva 10, Menk 9, Banchero 6, Casio 5, Hontiveros 5, Baguio 4, Dela Cruz 4, Exciminiano 3, Jazul 3, Racal 2, Baclao 0.
NLEX 81 - Anthony 21, Villanueva E. 12, Taulava 10, Alas 9, Villanueva J. 9, Enciso 5, Reyes 5, Camson 4, Khobuntin 4, Cardona 2, Lanete 0, Arboleda 0, Apinan 0, Borboran 0.
Quarterscores: 23-15, 42-31, 68-51, 89-81