ALL of Alaska’s early woes seemed to have transferred to Kia, denying them of an upset with a 102-94 decision to stay alive in the playoff race in the PBA Governors’ Cup on Sunday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Aces climbed out of a double-digit hole entering the payoff period as they tightened their defensive screws when it mattered most to notch a third straight win after starting the conference with six straight losses.
Calvin Abueva provided his usual energy off the bench, while Buck Henton and JVee Casio also delivered especially in the clutch for the Aces, who sent the Picanto reeling to their ninth successive setback.
“It’s really tough to come out in the situation they’re in…but Chris (Gavina) squeezed so much out of his guys,” Aces coach Alex Compton said. “We just had a couple of bounces going our way.”
Abueva played with his usual tenacity and was always in the right place at the right time again as he scattered a team-high 26 points on 8-of-14 shooting, 15 boards, three assists, and one steal.
The Beast also got in the nerves of Kia import Geron Johnson, who exploded for 39 points and flirted with a triple-double with nine boards and seven assists, but he committed some crucial offensive fouls off Abueva that hastened the Picanto’s downfall.
Henton added 20 points, 13 boards, and seven assists as he knocked down the triple that put the aces up for good at 97-94 with a minute and seven seconds left after trailing by as many as 10 points, 77-67, at the start of the final frame.
Casio also scored 20 points, along with seven assists, and one boards in almost 28 minutes, while fellow playmaker Ping Exciminiano also proved to be a spark off the bench as he finished with 14 points, four boards, and three assists.
Alaska 102 – Abueva 26, Henton 20, Casio 20, Exciminiano 14, Banchero 11, Thoss 4, Racal 3, Baclao 2, Cruz 2, Mendoza 0, Magat 0, Pascual 0, Galliguez 0, Enciso 0.
Kia 94 – Johnson 39, Paniamogan 12, Elorde 11, Yee 11, Khobuntin 10, Ballesteros 4, Celda 3, Jaime 2, Corpuz 2, Revilla 0, Camson 0, Salva 0.
Quarterscores: 23-27; 46-51; 67-77; 102-94.