CHRIS Banchero is fast emerging as Alaska’s newest take-charge guy.
Blessed with good looks and ice in his veins, the Fil-Italian guard stepped up when the Aces' campaign in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup was on the line.
Banchero came through in the clutch for Alaska in its do-or-die encounter with Meralco for the last berth in the quarterfinals, and then delivered anew as the Aces stunned top seed TnT Katropa to force a do-or-die encounter for a semifinals slot.
The 30-year-old Banchero averaged 14.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 6.0 assists in the two crucial sudden-death victories that made him a unanimous choice as PBA Press Corps-Cignal Player of the Week for the period July 15-21.
Banchero received nine out of the total 13 votes tallied for the weekly citation, with the rest of the votes going to Alaska teammate Vic ‘The Muscle Man’ Manuel.
Another Alaska player in Simon Enciso was also nominated for the individual honor along with Barangay Ginebra’s Stanley Pringle and Japeth Aguilar, June Mar Fajardo and Chris Ross of San Miguel Beer, and Rain or Shine’s Ed Daquioag and Rey Nambatac.
Manuel finished with a team-high 23 points when the Aces survived Meralco in overtime, 108-103, but it was Banchero who kept the team alive in the waning seconds of regulation.
Down by four in the final 20 seconds, Banchero scored Alaska’s last five points, including a pressure-packed jumper with three seconds left that sent the game into overtime, 96-all.
Given a new lease of life, the Aces again leaned on Banchero’s strong start that set the tone for the team’s 108-72 blowout win over the Katropa in their quarterfinals series in what was the worst defeat of TnT in its entire playoffs history.
Alaska and TnT tangle anew on Wednesday for the right to advance to one of two best-of-five semifinals.