ALASKA showed poise, patience, and fierce intensity to once again master Barangay Ginebra, 104-90, in Game Two on Friday night and move within a victory of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup title before a jampacked crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Save for a fast Ginebra start and a last-gasp Kings rally that narrowed an imposing 24-point Alaska lead to 86-94 with a minute to go in the game, the Aces were simply unflappable in dealing the crowd darlings another beating for a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
“We had to weather that first-quarter storm. We knew they will come out with a lot of energy,” said Alaska coach Luigi Trillo after the game.
The Uytengsu organization gets the first of three chances to wrap up its 14th championship - and first in the post-Tim Cone era - when Game Three is played on Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum, but Trillo is not letting his guard down.
“That side (Ginebra) has a lot of tradition there. We knew they will come out with aggressiveness, but understood they will make some adjustments. Now they have to beat us three straight,” he added.
Veteran big man Sonny Thoss played another pivotal role on the defensive end, shackling Barangay Ginebra import Vernon Macklin while contributing 16 points and eight rebounds in a heroic effort.
“Sonny did a good job putting the body on Vernon, but you collectively wear out Macklin. If you notice, it’s not just one-on-one defense, sometimes we double right away,” noted the youthful Alaska mentor.
Veteran gunner Dondon Hontiveros led three other Alaska players with 15 points, after going 4-of-4 from beyond the arc in the final period to parry every Gin King rally.
Alaska improved its season record against Ginebra to 6-1 (win-loss) after its fourth straight win over the league's most popular team.
Jayjay Helterbrand and Tenorio led the way with 17 and 16 points, respectively, as Macklin was once again left frustrated by Thoss and Alaska's swarming defense, finishing with only eight points.
ALASKA 104 - Thoss 16, Dozier 15, Abueva 15, Baguio 15, Hontiveros 15, Casio 13, Espinas 8, Jazul 4, Belasco 3, Dela Cruz 0.
GINEBRA 90 - Helterbrand 17, Tenorio 16, Baracael 11, Raymundo 10, Macklin 8, Ellis 8, Labagala 5, Urbiztondo 5, Mamaril 4, Hatfield 4, Caguioa 2, Maierhofer 0.
Quarterscores: 25-23, 54-37, 74-56, 104-90