ALASKA'S defense held Barako Bull without a field goal in the final six minutes on the way to booking its first-ever win of the season via a 102-86 victory on Sunday night in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Prized acquisition JVee Casio scored 16 of his game-high 24 points in the second half while sustaining a cut on the head after a collision with teammate Samigue Eman during a loose ball scramble, sealing the Aces’ first win after two bad losses to start the season.
The Aces, who had a sluggish start in the first period, actually made the decisive move a quarter earlier, unloading a dizzying 24-1 third-quarter windup that allowed them to overhaul a seven-point deficit and wrest an 81-65 lead entering the final quarter.
The Energy Cola then had a spirited fourth quarter run behind Enrico Villanueva and Leo Najorda’s baskets inside the paint to push them to within 84-85, time down to 5:46 to play.
From there, the Aces held the Energy Cola without a field goal while banking on Mac Baracael, Casio and Cyrus Baguio’s offense to finish off Barako Bull.
“Madami pa kaming kakainin,” said Alaska coach Luigi Trillo after his first victory for the Aces. “We want to work and keep improving. Other teams are super talented. But overall you want to do the hard work and try to outwork other teams.”
On Sunday night, Alaska played excellent defense, holding Barako Bull to just 27-of-84 overall in the game for a 32.1 percent shooting clip.
Alaska missed the services of mercurial forward Gabby Espinas, who has been in sick bay since Saturday, but drew inspired play from veteran center Sonny Thoss, who played courageously even though he was suffering from a bum stomach.
The 6’7” Thoss was 0-of-5 during the game, but he had six rebounds and more importantly, four shot blocks.
Barako Bull, which drew a team-high 22 points and 17 rebounds from Enrico Villanueva, dropped its second straight game after opening the season with a victory against Air21 Express. The loss forged a three-way logjam at 1-2 among the Energy Cola, the Aces and the Express.
Meanwhile, Baguio and Baracael finished the game with 23 and 21 points, respectively, to provide scoring support for Casio’s breakout game with Alaska.
Alaska 102 - Casio 24, Baguio 23, Baracael 21, Dela Cruz 10, Eman 9, Jazul 6, Reyes 5, Laure2, Hontiveros 2, Bugia 0, Thoss 0
Barako Bull 86 – Villanueva 22, Tubid 16, Urbiztondo 14, Pennisi 14, Anthony 10, Najorda 9, Yap 1, Marcelo 0, Alvarez 0, Kramer 0, Cruz 0
Quarter scores: 21-25, 48-all, 81-65, 102-86