Sluggish Alaska still too good for Blackwater, gets victory No. 2 for share of PBA lead
Alaska forward Calvin Abueva takes on two Blackwater defenders. Jerome Ascano

ALASKA turned to what it does best as it held off Blackwater, 87-79, to gain a share of the PBA Philippine Cup lead on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Coming off an impressive 114-98 victory over early favorite Talk ‘N Text last week, the Aces surprisingly came out flat offensively as they fell into an early deficit against a sophomore team in the Elite.

But the perennial title contenders restored order by tightening their defense in the second half - limiting the Elite to a paltry 30-percent (24-of-79) shooting overall – to pull off their second straight win.

“I thought our form was fantastic against Talk ‘N Text, but there’s just not an easy game in the PBA,” Aces coach Alex Compton said.

“I felt our decision making was poor in the first half.” he added. “But I was glad we came out with more fire in the second half.”

Vic Manuel and Chris Banchero carried the offensive cudgels, scoring 13 points apiece off the bench for the Aces, who kept the Elite winless in two starts.

Manuel, who added seven boards and two blocks, pumped in eight of his scoring output in the payoff period, including two on a stab off JVee Casio that gave the Aces their biggest lead at 79-71, completing a turnaround after trailing by seven points at the half.

JP Erram emerged one of the few bright spots for the Elite, tallying 13 points, nine boards, and two steals in a losing effort.

Rookie Keith Agovida, however, mustered only three points, missing all but one of his seven shots after putting a solid pro debut with a team-high 15 points against NLEX.

The scores:

Alaska 87 - Banchero 13, Manuel 13, Dela Cruz 11, Casio 10, Abueva 7, Dela Rosa 7, Thoss 6, Hontiveros 5, Baclao 4, Baguio 4, Exciminiano 4, Jazul 2, Magat 1, Eman 0.

Blackwater 79 - Erram 13, Cervantes 11, Canada 10, Melano 10, Cortez 9, Reyes 7, Gamalinda 5, Ballesteros 4, Sena 4, Agovida 3, Golla 2, Lastimosa 2, Vosotros 0.

Quarterscores: 20-22; 41-48; 69-66; 87-79.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos