ALASKA got its title-retention bid back on track once again as it subdued Air21, 88-78, on Monday night in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Aces clamped down on defense and made the key baskets down the stretch as they snapped a two-game skid to notch just their second victory in five games, while dealing the Express their second loss in four matches.
“It feels like a mountain, super big,” Aces coach Luigi Trillo said on how big the victory was. “I’m just happy to see my guys buying in to what we’re trying to doing defensively.”
Rob Dozier spearheaded the Aces’ attack with 23 points, including eight in the final frame where the defending champions outscored the Express, 27-16.
The Aces actually trailed most of the way, before tightening their defensive screws in the payoff period to gain the upper hand.
RJ Jazul also left his imprint in Alaska's fourth-quarter uprising, scoring seven of his 10 points, including the teardrop that gave the Aces the lead for good at 72-70 with less than five minutes to go.
Dozier added nine boards, four blocks, and two assists, while putting up a stellar defensive job on Air21 counterpart Herve Lamizana, who finished with just 16 points (on 4-of-14 shooting), including just two in the final quarter.
Joseph Yep was the top-performing Air21 local with 19 points, five assists, and four boards that all went for naught.
ALASKA (88) – Dozier 23, Thoss 14, Abueva 13, Casio 10, Jazul 10, Hontiveros 6, Baguio 6, Dela Cruz 2, Espinas 2, Manuel 2, Reyes 0
AIR21 (78) – Yeo 19, Lamizana 16, Taulava 11, Cardona 10, Borboran 9, Villanueva 5, Ramos 4, Burtscher 2, Atkins 2, Jaime 0, Poligrates 0
Quarterscores: 19-16; 38-41; 61-62; 88-78.