Fit-again Rob Dozier gives Alaska an imposing defense presence inside the lane
Rob Dozier was an imposing presence on defense in his conference debut. Jerome Ascano

ROB Dozier survived his baptism of fire with Alaska in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Friday against NLEX.

The Aces import, who made his conference debut after being sidelined with a foot injury, had the unenviable task of defending prolific Road Warriors counterpart Al Thornton, who was coming off a 69-point explosion against San Miguel Beer.

“I had the hardest challenge, having to guard Al, which was unfortunate, but I had fun in my first game,” Dozier said. “I was just trying to get my feet wet.”

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Good thing, the locals managed to shoulder most of the offensive load in lieu of Dozier, who registered 14 points, 13 boards, and two blocks in 29 minutes.

“The guys played well, they kind of carried the offense and we played well defensively,” said Dozier, who helped somehow limit Thornton to 37 points after the NLEX reinforcement put on one of finest individual scoring performances in recent memory.

The Aces also came away with a 104-98 win.

“You saw what Rob does for us defensively – his length, it feels that he has a ten-foot wingspan out there,” Aces coach Alex Compton said of the 6-foot-9 beanpole. “I thought it was good break-in game for Rob. I thought he did a good job considering he had been out for months.”

Dozier, who took over standout stand-in import Shane Edwards, has been practicing for two weeks now.

“I’m doing the best I can,” said the 60th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. “My body felt great out there. I didn’t have any pain in my foot, so I’m just looking forward to next game.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos