Alaska took advantage of an opponent that had no import this time as it put away Blackwater, 107-87, to stay alive in the PBA Governors’ Cup playoff race on Sunday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Atoning for a disappointing three-point loss to import-less San Miguel Beer, the Aces pounced on the absence of injured Elite reinforcement Eric Dawson as they raced to an early lead and kept their foot on the gas pedal to cruise to their third win in eight games.
LaDontae Henton registered a game-high 33 points and the Aces import didn’t have to play in the payoff period as his team enjoyed a huge cushion.
The Aces thus left the Elite, who were also missing Reil Cervantes and Mike Cortez, not to mention JP Erram, on the brink of elimination as they remained stuck at the bottom with a seventh loss in eight games.
“We were handed a huge advantage,” Aces coach Alex Compton said. “Malaking bagay na wala si Dawson. He was a big part of our preparations. We just lost to San Miguel wihtotu an import and now the guys didn’t (let up).”
“It was nice to get back into the win column,” the American coach added as his team remained in 10th spot and outside the magic circle of 8. “We are not used to where we are right now.”
The Aces built a lead that ballooned to 30 points as they had the luxury to extend the playing time of their young guns, particularly rookie Kevin Racal, who emerged as the top-scoring local with 12 points, followed by defensive-minded Ping Exciminiano, who added 11 markers.
Art dela Cruz scored a team-high 23 points, but cooled down after scoring 12 in the first period, while Carlo Lastimosa shied away from the spotlight early before scoring all but two of his 18 points in the final frame that proved too little too late for Blackwater.
ALASKA 107 – Henton 33, Racal 12, Exciminiano 11, Banchero 8, Baclao 7, Abueva 7, Thoss 6, Jazul 5, Casio 4, Dela Rosa 4, Mendoza 4, Dela Cruz 4, Hontiveros 2, Magat 0, Menk 0
BLACKWATER 87 – Dela Cruz 23, Lastimosa 18, Gamalinda 10, Melano 10, Miranda 6, Reyes 5, Sena 4, Tiongson 3, Pascual 2, Sumang 2, Qahwash 2, Golla 2
Quarterscores: 25-20, 54-36, 82-54, 107-87