GUNNER Dondon Hontiveros and rookie guard Chris Banchero sparked a ferocious fourth-quarter fightback to lift Alaska to a morale-boosting 107-100 victory and keep San Miguel Beer winless in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Tuesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Hontiveros banged in 12 of his 17 points in the final period, while Banchero added nine of his 14 as the duo helped the Aces complete their comeback from an 11-point deficit to beat the Beermen in a rematch of the Philippine Cup Finals protagonists.
Blown away the last time out by GlobalPort, Alaska finally found a way to scrape past a struggling San Miguel squad to hike its record to 2-2 and climb back into playoff contention.
“I feel like we really needed to win. I know it’s very early in the conference, but if you look at the standings, this is not 10 teams coming in (to the playoffs) so with the way we’re playing. meron kaming ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ because we don’t know who will be showing up,” said a relieved Alaska coach Alex Compton.
The Beermen, who outlasted the Aces, 4-3 in the all-Filipino Finals, dropped deeper into the cellar at 0-4.
Forward Gabby Espinas played his best game so far since missing the entire Philippine Cup due to a fractured right ankle, filling the void for the Aces as import DJ Covington battled foul trouble in the second half.
The rugged Espinas scored eight points, grabbed seven rebounds and added three assists while holding San Miguel’s 6-7 import Ronald Roberts scoreless the entire final period.
“I was happy to see Gabby play better considering that he’s been out (in the Philippine Cup). Chris and Don also had good games, and Don hit some key free throws down the stretch,” said Compton.
San Miguel, which missed the services of playmaker Alex Cabagnot (hamstring) drew 24 points and 14 points from Roberts while reigning MVP JUne Mar Fajardo chipped in 21 and 17 boards.
Arwind Santos finished with only four points.
ALASKA 107 - Covington 20, Hontiveros 17, Banchero 14, Abueva 12, Baguio 10, Espinas 8, Menk 8, Exciminiano 7, Manuel 6, Jazul 5, Eman 0, Dela Rosa 0, Vanlandingham 0, Dela Cruz 0, Casio 0.
SAN MIGUEL 100 - Roberts 24, Fajardo 21, Lassiter 18, Lutz 15, Ross 9, Tubid 6, Santos 4, Fortuna 3, Kramer 0, Reyes 0, Omolon 0.
Quarterscores: 19-27, 49-50, 76-78, 107-100