A DIFFERENT Alaska squad showed up on Friday night and hammered three-time PBA champion San Mig into submission, 93-84, and vault back into playoff contention in the PBA Governors Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Just two days after a franchise-worst 72-123 beating at the hands of Rain or Shine, Alaska played with renewed pride and character and rode a crippling 20-9 blast in the third period to snap a three-game losing skid.
The Aces led by as much as 22 points as they improved to 3-4 overall and 2-3 under new coach Alex Compton, who succeeded Luigi Trillo two weeks ago in a surprised coaching change.
On the other hand, a listless San Mig saw its three-game winning streak come to an end and fell into a share of third spot with San Miguel Beer and Air21 on 4-2 win-loss records.
“We just had a short walkthrough and watched the video but it’s just really about the guys. And I wish I could say I did something great today, but the guys just showed up,” said Compton.
The Philippine-born Compton said the victory revived their slim hopes for a top four spot in the playoffs, though at this point, he’s much more concerned with seeing the Aces play the right way on both offense and defense.
Compton also commended import Henry Walker for leading the way for the Aces after the NBA veteran fired a personal PBA-best 32 points, spiked by five three-pointers.
The former New York Knicks gunner added 13 rebounds, six assists and two steals, bringing in the intensity that put a huge smile on the face of Alaska team owner Fred Uytengsu.
“I thought he (Walker) played hard all game. He sustained his focus and our guys fed off of that,” added the rookie Alaska coach.
Vic Manuel poured in 12 of his 14 points in the second half, providing a huge emotional lift for the Aces, while Cyrus Baguio and Gabby Espinas chipped in 13 and 11 points, respectively.
Joe Devance led the Mixers with 14 points, while Alex Mallari added 11.
San Mig failed to get the usual scoring output from old reliable like PJ Simon, who only scored 10 points, while two-time PBA MVP James Yap finished with just six.
Alaska 93 - Walker 32, Manuel 14, Baguio 13, Espinas 11, Thoss 9, Abueva 6, Casio 5, Dela Cruz 2, Jazul 1, Reyes 0, Hontiveros 0.
San Mig 84 - Devance 14, Mallari 13, Blakely 11, Simon 10, Maliksi 9, Reavis 9, Sangalang 7, Yap 6, Melton 4, Pingris 1, Barroca 0.
Quarterscores: 17-19, 39-37, 71-58, 93-84