DEFENDING champion Alaska rode on another solid defensive effort to score a 83-73 victory over Ginebra in the first meeting between the two Finals protagonists of last season’s PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The victory was the Aces’ fourth in a row, putting them in top form just in time for the playoffs next week. Both teams went into the game assured of a place in the quarterfinals after GlobalPort's win in the opening game knocked Barako Bull out of contention.
“I thought we did a good job in the first half, (limiting Ginebra to) 24 points. We just gave 11 (points) in the first quarter and 13 in the second quarter,” said Alaska coach Luigi Trillo, whose team moved up to solo third spot in the standings at 5-3.
Ginebra, which sat out import Josh Powell in the second half reportedly due to a painful foot, dropped to eighth spot at 3-5 after shooting an atrocious 3-of-28 from the three-point zone.
However, there are also unconfirmed reports that Powell has received an offer to be part of the Houston Rockets lineup in time for the NBA playoffs.
Reigning champion Robert Dozier led the Aces’ outstanding game, finishing with 22 points, 16 rebounds, two steals and two blocks to earn Best Player of the Game honors.
JV Casio added 13 points while Dondon Hontiveros 10 as the Aces led by as many as 21 points in the second half, before coasting to the win.
Compounding Ginebra’s woes was import Powell’s failure to play in the entire second half. He played 15 minutes in the first half but complained of a foot problem, leaving him scoreless and ending with just one rebound and an assist in the process.
Without a solid inside presence, rookie big man Greg Slaughter took charge, scoring 20 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.
Japeth Aguilar added 12, while LA Tenorio chipped in 11, whose team has a week to prepare for its last game against Rain or Shine.
With the playoff cast already complete following Globalport’s 98-96 win over Barako Bull in the first game, Ginebra’s only hope is to beat Rain or Shine to at least avoid an eighth place finish in the elims to avoid facing top seed Talk ‘N Text in the playoffs.
Alaska 83 - Dozier 22, Casio 13, Hontiveros 10, Espinas 8, Manuel 8, Baguio 8, Jazul 6, Thoss 4, Reyes 2, Abueva 2, Dela Cruz 0, Buenafe 0.
Ginebra 73 - Slaughter 20, Aguilar 12, Tenorio 11, Baracael 8, Ellis 6, Caguioa 6, Urbiztondo 5, Reyes 3, Helterbrand 2, Powell 0, Ababou 0.
Quarterscores: 19-11, 40-24, 61-44, 83-73