ALASKA recovered from a momentary defensive breakdown with a strong finishing kick to hand Blackwater a 69-56 beating and remain unbeaten in the PBA Philippine Cup on Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Aces saw a 16-point lead whittled down to just 44-49 early in the fourth period after a long Sunday Salvacion jumper, but Alaska uncorked a detonated a 16-3 bomb coming off a timeout to all but settle the outcome.
The Aces improved to a tournament-best 6-0 record while dealing the Blackwater Elite their sixth successive loss in their debut season in the pro league.
“I thought we set the tone defensively in the first half, our energy was high, much higher than the KIA game, and I was proud with how our players responded,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton.
Eric Menk, taking over for the injured Sonny Thoss, had 14 points and 13 rebounds to lead Alaska while standing at the forefront of a defense that held Blackwater to just 20 points in the first half.
However, Compton felt the Aces still have a lot to work on, particularly on their offensive sets since they only shot 33 percent from the floor (29-of-87).
“Obviously, we had some struggles offensively, but if we can continue defending like that, it would be good,” he added.
The Alaska coach also commended Blackwater for their stubborn stand, even though the Elite were held down to the second lowest output in a game this season.
“Wala talagang easy (games) dito. Good job talaga ang ginawa ni coach Leo (Isaac) na motivation because if you’re in that kind of a team that is losing a lot, well, these (Blackwater) guys just didn’t quit,” he said.
“They kept playing because after scoring 20 points in the first half, it would have been easy to quit, but they did a good job of responding and not giving up.”
Calvin Abueva registered his fourth double-double for the season after finishing with 13 points and 18 rebounds.
Larry Rodriguez was the lone double-digit scorer for Blackwater with 10 points.