ALASKA held San Miguel Beer scoreless in the last five minutes to gut out a 94-87 victory to get its championship bid off to a strong start in the PBA Governors Cup Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Aces controlled the game for most of the way as San Miguel import Reggie Williams led a blazing second half rally that allowed the Beermen to take an 87-86 lead with 4:45 to go in the game.
But the Aces went to work from there, going on a 7-0 run and then forcing the Beermen to two crucial turnovers to clinch the opening-day victory.
Alaska coach Luigi Trillo credited local big man Sonny Thoss for setting the tone on the defensive end, denying big June Mar Fajardo the touches inside the paint.
Import Henry Walker also managed to control his emotions after figuring in a scuffle last week in a tune-up match.
“Sonny Thoss, he played his heart out. It was a very tough matchup for him (Thoss) because of June Mar Fajardo but he was our steady inside presence,” said Trillo after the game.
“Henry controlled more of his emotions, because ang problema sa amin nung preseason, napipikon siya.”
Walker, who was fined P20,000 for fighting with Danny Ildefonso of Meralco last week during a tune-up match, flirted with a triple-double in his league debut after finishing with 27 points, 13 rebounds, and nine assists.
Thoss added 13 points and nine rebounds, while Calvin Abueva added 12 and nine boards in a balanced scoring attack for the Aces.
The Beermen drew 42 points from Williams, a legitimate NBA veteran who played for the Golden State Warriors, Charlotte Bobcats, and the Oklahoma City Thunder for five seasons.
But the left-handed San Miguel reinforcement appeared to have lost steam in the end, even missing two foul shots late in the game that hastened the Beermen's downfall.
ALASKA (94) -- Walker 27, Thoss 18, Abueva 12, Espinas 10, Baguio 7, Casio 6, Jazul 6, Hontiveros 6, Manuel 2.
SAN MIGUEL BEER (87) -- Williams 42, Fajardo 13, Lassiter 8, Maierhofer 6, Tubid 6, Mercado 5, Santos 3, Lutz 2, Chua 2, Lanete 0, Kramer 0, Ross 0.
Quarterscores: 20-18; 43-40; 69-70; 94-87.