ALASKA schooled Phoenix on the properly execution of a pressing defense, cruising to a 93-75 victory to sustain its run of good form in the PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
In a battle between two teams under longtime coaching partners Alex Compton and Louie Alas who follow the same defensive philosophies, the Aces’ version proved more efficient, forcing the Fuel Masters to turnovers that translated into easy points.
Chris Banchero and the returning Calvin Abueva sparked the blowout for the Aces, who stretched their win streak to five games after starting the conference with two losses, while handing the Fuel Masters their fourth loss in seven games.
It was the Aces' first five-game winning streak in almost two years or since March 2016 in the Commissioner’s Cup with import Shane Edwards.
“Our defense in the first half had a lot of teeth. After that, we just tried to maintain it,” Aces coach Alex Compton said.
Indeed, the Aces wasted no time in showing who the better defensive team was, limiting the Fuel Masters to just 12 points in each of the first two quarters and holding them to 33-percent shooting (30-of-90) from the field overall. Alaska also forced Phoenix to commit 23 errors that turned into 24 turnover points.
The Aces’ defense was most evident on Matthew Wright and Jeff Chan, who paced the Fuel Masters, but combined for a dismal 12-of-37 shooting from the field.
On offense, Banchero led the balanced effort, tallying 22 points on 6-of-8 shooting, five boards, four assists, and one steal in almost 29 minutes.
But it was Abueva who ignited the early breakaway, scoring eight of his 21 points in the first period, and completed his usual workmanlike effort with 15 rebounds, four steals, one assist, and one block in just 25 minutes off the bench.
Noy Baclao, finally healthy after being sidelined with a knee injury, also provided quality playing time with 10 points, seven boards, and two blocks in just 12 minutes.
ALASKA 93 – Banchero 22, Abueva 21, Manuel 10, Baclao 10, Enciso 10, Racal 6, Casio 5, Cruz 3, Thoss 2, Galliguez 2, Magat 2, Potts 0, Teng 0, Exciminiano 0
PHOENIX 75 – Wright 16, Chan 14, Perkins 12, Chua 7, Kramer 6, Mendoza 5, Alolino 4, Revilla 3, Jazul 3, Intal 3, Wilson 2, Guevarra 0, Dehesa 0, Eriobu 0
Quarterscores: 23-12, 48-24,68-50, 93-75