BARANGAY Ginebra avoided another collapse, hacking out a 93-92 victory over weary Alaska to finally barge into the win column of the Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup on early Sunday (Manila time) before a delighted capacity crowd at the Al Wasl Sports Club in Dubai.
After surrendering a stunning 82-79 decision to Barako Bull where they squandered a 21-point lead, the Gin Kings saw another huge cushion disappear, this time a19-point spread at the half, but came through in the clutch behind big man Greg Slaughter to prevail in the pulsating encounter.
As a result, the Gin Kings finally rewarded new coach Tim Cone his first win after two losses, while the Aces suffered their first defeat in four games.
Slaughter put up another monstrous effort of 27 points and 19 boards, and, more importantly, showed steely nerves down the stretch when he made six straight free throws, the last two proved to be the go-ahead point after the Aces threatened to steal the game.
For a while, though, the Aces, who played their second game of a grueling back-to-back schedule, hardly showed signs of fatigue as they rallied from the early double-digit deficit, thanks to the energetic duo Vic Manuel and Calvin Abueva.
Abueva pumped in nine of his team-high 23 points in the payoff period, while Manuel scored four of his 14 markers inside the last minute, including the tough shot over Slaughter that gave the Aces a taste of the lead at 92-91.
Manuel, though, failed to complete the comeback as he and JVee Casio missed desperation jumpers in the Aces’ final possession.
Slaughter conspired with frontcourt partner Japeth Aguilar, who also registered a double-double of 23 points and 12 boards.
GINEBRA 93 – Slaughter 27, Aguilar 23, Tenorio 14, Caguioa 11, Thompson 8, Marcelo 4, Devance 2, Brondial 2, Ellis 1, Mercado 1, Helterbrand 0, Mariano 0
ALASKA 92 – Abueva 23, Hontiveros 15, Manuel 14, Jazul 9, Menk 6, Baclao 6, Baguio 4, Thoss 4, Exciminiano 4, Casio 3, Dela Rosa 2, Dela Cruz 2, Banchero 0, Magat 0
Quarterscores: 24-21, 56-37, 75-66, 93-92