ALASKA completed a gritty comeback from a 17-point first-half deficit with two major scoring outbursts to beat Rain or Shine, 87-80, at the start of their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series on Thursday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Calvin Abueva and Sonny Thoss provided muscle and scoring punch for the Aces, presiding over a defense that held the Elasto Painters to a single field goal over the final six minutes.
That set the tone for a fiery 14-3 finishing kick that enabled Alaska to put an end to Rain or Shine's seven-game win streak and draw first blood in the best-of-seven series.
“But that was some big defensive breakdown for us in the first half," said Alaska coach Alex Compton of the team's poor start to the game that allowed Rain or Shine to open a 34-17 lead.
"I was really proud of our guys because they weathered the storm and after halftime, we chipped the lead away and put our frustrations aside.”
Sonny Thoss finished with 14 points and nine rebounds to earn Best Player of the Game honors while Abueva registered a double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds, while adding five assists for the Aces.
Compton, however, was quick to put in a word of warning, aware that Alaska had taken a 1-0 and 2-1 lead over Rain or Shine last season yet still lost their Governors Cup best-of-five semifinal series.
“It’s nice to win, but you have to get four (wins), so we have to watch the tape and get better,” he said.
It was a tale of two halves for Rain or Shine, who let the momentum get away in the second half. The team ended up committing 19 turnovers which Alaska translated to 23 points.
Veterans Jeff Chan and Beau Belga combined for 10 turnovers.
“Of course, the next story in the game was obviously that big run (in the fourth quarter), then we forced some turnovers and we got some layups. Siyempre, maliit kami eh,” said Compton.
Chan led the Elasto Painters with 17 points, Belga added 11 points and 11 boards, while Raymund Almazan had 10.