ADVERSITY brought out the best out of Alaska on Friday the 13th as it held off Rain or Shine, 111-99, to stay alive in their PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals series at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Aces finally clicked on both ends of the floor, with their pesky defense translating to transition baskets and open outside shots as they coasted to the victory in a match that heated up at crunch time.
As a result, the Aces avoided a sweep and extended the best-of-seven series to a Game Five on Sunday also at the Big Dome. They also ended a seven-game losing streak in the finals dating back to the Philippine Cup, where they lost the last four games to San Miguel Beer.
Rob Dozier anchored the Aces with 23 points and eight boards, while Chris Banchero and Calvin Abueva provided the spark off the bench to lead the locals in a balanced effort that typified vintage Alaska basketball.
“We showed up,” Aces coach Alex Compton said. “I challenged them. And contrary to popular belief that we had to make overwhelming adjustments, we just did what we were supposed to do.”
Banchero fired 17 points, eight assists, and three boards in 25 minutes, while Abueva added 14 points, 10 boards, four assists, and one steal in 26 minutes.
However, Abueva, who received the Best Player of the Conference award before the game, didn’t see the end of the match after getting ejected following a second technical foul call.
The result spoiled the splendid showing of Maverick Ahanmisi, who scored a career-high 30 points and led the E-Painters’ late comeback that fell short.
With their backs against the wall, the Aces came out with a rejuvenated effort, especially in the middle quarters, the same two periods where the E-Painters outclassed them in Game Three last Wednesday.
The Aces outscored the E-Painters, 65-46, in the second and third quarters to establish their biggest lead at 23 heading into the fourth.
The E-Painters, though, refused to go down without a fight as they started a comeback trail that saw them pull to within eight points, 107-99, after an Ahanmisi three-pointer with 41 seconds left.
ALASKA 111 – Dozier 23, Banchero 17, Jazul 15, Abueva 14, Baguio 11, Thoss 11, Hontiveros 7, Racal 7, Dela Cruz 4, Baclao 2, Dela Rosa 0
ROS 99 – Ahanmisi 30, Lee 11, Chan 10, Quinahan 10, Cruz 9, Norwood 9, Belga 6, Ibanes 4, Henderson-Niles 3, Ponferada 3, Almazan 2, Tiu 2, Teng 0
Quarterscores: 25-21, 54-39, 90-67, 111-99