ALASKA held a charging Barako Bull side to a single field goal in the final four minutes to pull off a 77-73 win and remain as the lone unbeaten team in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Sunday night.
Import Robert Dozier, rookie Calvin Abueva, and Cyrus Baguio each had a big basket in an 8-3 finishing kick that stopped a rallying Barako Bull on its track and put the finishing touches to the Aces' third victory in as many games in the mid-season conference.
Alaska's defense also held its ground during that stretch, making some key stops against the Euro-style offense consultant Rajko Toroman installed at Barako.
“I wasn’t pleased with our defense. Their (Energy Cola) ball movement was Euro basket. And I was telling my players that we really need to improve on our intensity. We got to get some stops. And we did,” said Alaska coach Luigi Trillo.
Trillo was also unhappy over the way the Aces squandered a 17-point second-quarter lead, 38-21, and allowed the Energy Cola to take the upperhand, 67-61 behind the valiant efforts of Josh Urbiztondo, Mark Macapagal and later on, Danny Seigle.
Worse, Abueva picked up his fourth personal foul early in the third period, leaving the Aces without their energy guy while trying to survive Barako Bull's run.
“Actually, Calvin got hit in the left knee in the second quarter. So I had to rest him. I opted to rest him much of the fourth quarter while he’s also in foul trouble. It was good he was able to come back because we really needed an energy guy,” said Trillo.
Dozier led the Aces with 19 points, 20 rebounds, two steals and one block to earn his second Best Player of the Game honors.
Barako Bull, which lost for the first time in three games, got 15 points from Urbiztondo while import Evan Brock added 12, 15 rebounds and three blocks. However, Brock’s two crucial missed free throws with under one minute to play contributed to the team’s downfall.
Alaska 77 - Dozier 19, Baguio 11, Casio 9, Jazul 8, Espinas 8, Thoss 8, Abueva 4, Dela Cruz 4, Hontiveros 4, Reyes 2, Ramos 0
Barako Bull 73 - Urbiztondo 15, Brock 12, Villanueva 10, Macapagal 9, seigle 9, Maliksi 4, Kramer 4, Allado 4, Intal 3, Pennisi 3
Quarterscores: 23-17, 42-36, 59-60, 77-73