A NEAR full-strength Alaska side turned to what it does best at crunch time as it sent GlobalPort crashing back to earth with a 95-84 decision to barge into the win column of the PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Calvin Abueva made an outstanding season debut as he sparked the comeback from nine points down halfway through the fourth, before JVee Casio put the finishing touches as the Aces tightened their defensive screws down the stretch.
The Aces, who climbed from a hole as deep as 16 points in the third, thus registered their first win in three games, while handing the Batang Pier their first loss after two straight wins.
“The press got us back in the game,” Aces coach Alex Compton said.
“We’re undersized, but the guys who put on the jersey didn’t lack heart,” the American mentor added of a team still missed injured big men Sonny Thoss and Noy Baclao.
The 6-foot-1 1/2 Abueva stood tallest, pouring in 15 of his team-high 22 points in the final frame, including 10 straight in one stretch, the last from a three-pointer that pulled the Aces to within one, 77-78, after they trailed by 69-78 with over six minutes left.
Casio then took over, scoring all but one of his team’s next eight points, the first from a stop-and-pop jumper that put them up for good, and the last a top-of-the-key triple that gave them an 85-79 lead that proved enough to hold on to the result.
Vic Manuel was also solid his return from suspension, tallying 10 points and seven boards in 22 minutes off the bench, while RJ Jazul and Jaypee Mendoza added nine points apiece.
The balanced effort trumped the two-man GlobalPort show of Terrence Romeo and Stanley Pringle, who combined for 49 of the team’s total output.
ALASKA 95 – Abueva 22, Casio 15, Manuel 10, Jazul 9, Mendoza 9, Dela Cruz 6, Hontiveros 6, Cruz 6, Exciminiano 5, Racal 3, Banchero 2, Magat 2
GLOBALPORT 84 – Romeo 26, Pringle 23, Quinahan 15, Semerad 8, Canaleta 3, Pennisi 3, Aban 2, Maierhofer 2, Paredes 2, Cortez 0, Dehesa 0, Mamaril 0, Pessumal 0
Quarterscores: 21-20, 35-40, 62-65, 95-84