ALASKA continued to show cohesion with Cory Jefferson, while Blackwater missed theirs down the stretch as the Aces cruised to a 109-95 victory on Wednesday night to gain a share of the early lead in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Behind Jefferson’s steady presence, the Aces built an early lead which they maintained throughout before pouncing on the Elite after reinforcement Greg Smith fouled out with still over seven minutes left in the game to coast to their second straight win.
Alaska tied Rain or Shine and Meralco on top, while handing the Elite their second straight loss.
Jefferson followed up his impressive debut with another solid showing with 28 points, 15 boards, two assists, two steals, and one block in 40 minutes.
“Cory is a great fit for us because he’s not a ball dominator,” Aces coach Alex Compton said of Jefferson, who has jelled well with his teammates despite having only three practices so far with the team.
Smith, on the other hand, took just nine attempts and finished with 14 points, along with 16 boards, six assists as he fouled out at the 7:28 mark, committing his last on Sonny Thoss, after scattering 37 points and 30 boards in his debut last Saturday.
“We really respect Blackwater; they beat us fair and square last conference. We know their good and that Greg Smith is an NBA-quality player,” Compton said. “It's a good thing Sonny (Thoss) was able to grab some fouls on him.”
The Aces were in the driver’s seat for the most part of the game, leading by as many as 21 points in the third quarter before shrugging off a late local stand by the Elite led by Reil Cervantes and Roi Sumang.
Gilas cadet Bryan Cruz emerged as the top-scoring Alaska local with 15 points on top of three boards, while Ping Exciminiano and Kevin Racal added 13 and 12 points, respectively. Thoss was their other teammate who reached in twin-digit scoring with 10 points and seven boards.
Calvin Abueva contributed nine points on six attempts, four boards, three assists, and one steal in 23 minutes for an Aces side that prevailed despite missing the services of injured Vic Manuel, JVee Casio, and Dondon Hontiveros.
ALASKA 109 – Jefferson 28, Cruz 15, Exciminiano 13, Racal 12, Thoss 10, Abueva 9, Galliguez 7, Pascual 5, Banchero 4, Mendoza 4, Enciso 2, Andrada 0
BLACKWATER 95 – Cervantes 21, Smith 14, Sumang 13, Buenafe 11, Belo 9, Digregorio 8, Ababou 4, Pascual 4, Sena 4, Aguilar 3, Gamalinda 2, Miranda 2, Forrester 0, Perez 0, Pinto 0
Quarterscores: 27-23, 52-43, 80-68, 109-95