ALASKA’s import-and-local point guard duo proved better than Rain or Shine’s counterpart as the Aces outlasted the E-Painters, 105-102, to remain undefeated in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Sunday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Cory Jefferson capped his 41-point explosion with two huge treys, while Jvee Casio hit the crucial charities as they got the better of the combination of Shawn Taggart and Mike Tolomia, who spearheaded the E-Painters’ comeback in a finals rematch that lived up to its billing.
The Aces thus stretched their winning streak to four games, while handing the E-Painters their second straight loss after the defending champions started the conference with three straight wins.
“I told our guys this game might come down to the last possession,” Aces coach Alex Compton said. “There were so many threats out there: Mike had a heck of a game for them and Taggart had a heck of a game.”
“On the flip side, I thought Cory was special,” he added. “He hit some pretty big shots late. That’s what you like to see your import do. And any point guard in the world, you got to put that ball in your hands in the endgame and Jvee did that. He did his job.”
Jefferson knocked down five three-pointers, the last one that gave the lead for good at 101-99 with 30.1 seconds left off a feed by Casio, who then buried two freebies to give the Aces a two-possession lead.
Taggart retaliated with a left-wing triple that pulled ROS to within one point, but Casio again knocked down two free throws to give the Aces the insurance points.
Tolomia stepped up with coach Caloy Garcia not getting the production he needed from his rotation playmakers as the seldom-used rookie guard sparked the ROS comeback from 14 points down, scoring all his nine points in the final frame. His last bucket was a floater that gave them their last taste of the lead at 99-98 with exactly a minute left.
The Gilas cadet, though, committed a costly turnover then missed a step-back triple at the buzzer that would’ve sent the game into overtime.
Taggart matched the performance of Jefferson as he tallied 40 points, 14 boards in almost 40 minutes of play that went for naught.
ALASKA 105 – Jefferson 41, Casio 16, Thoss 15, Abueva 11, Racal 6, Enciso 5, Exciminiano 3, Andrada 3, Pascual 2, Cruz 2, Mendoza 1
ROS 102 – Taggart 40, Cruz 11, Tolomia 9, Yap 8, Norwood 8, Chan 7, Belga 6, Almazan 4, Washington 4, Tiu 3, Ponferada 2, Ahanmisi 0
Quarters: 26-29, 50-44, 80-71, 105-102