ALASKA showed character down the stretch as it turned almost certain defeat into an 81-79 victory over Meralco to build some momentum in the PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Seemingly left for dead as they trailed by nine points in the last two minutes and 43 seconds, the Aces scored 10 unanswered points before Chris Banchero knocked down the go-ahead three-pointer with 4.2 seconds left that negated Jonathan Grey’s own trey in the previous play.
JVee Casio and RJ Jazul also buried their own triples in the 10-0 run, where Calvin Abueva likewise came through on both ends for the Aces, who registered a second straight win to tie the Bolts at 2-2 (win-loss).
“The thing I’m most proud of our team is our resiliency,” Aces coach Alex Compton said.
“I just told guys we had time. We just had to take it one possession at a time,” he added. “What a time for Jvee, RJ, and Chris to step up, and for Calvin (to make plays).”
After all, despite going scoreless in the fourth, Abueva but made his presence felt in other areas, particularly when he blocked a jumper by Joseph Yeo, and kicked out a pass to Jazul on the right corner for triple that put them on top, 78-77, with 27.3 seconds left.
The rookie Grey ended the Bolts’ scoring drought by converting on a strong drive that gave them the lead back, plus drew a foul on Abueva, although he missed the bonus charity as it set the stage for Banchero’s dagger.
For all their heroics, it was Vic Manuel who showed the way for the Aces with 22 points, 10 boards, three assists, and two blocks, and one steal in 28 minutes off the bench, as the star forward also contributed in the unanswered salvo with a stab that put them to within two, 75-77.
Chris Newsome scored a game-high 23 points, along with eight boards, and five assists, but the Bolts star missed a forced layup that would’ve sent the game to overtime.
ALASKA 81 – Manuel 22, Banchero 9, Abueva 9, Mendoza 9, Casio 8, Jazul 7, Dela Cruz 6, Exciminiano 4, Magat 2, Pascual 2, Hontiveros 2, Racal 1, Galliguez 0, Cruz 0
MERALCO 79 – Newsome 23, Hodge 16, Hugnatan 15, Grey 8, Daquioag 6, Amer 4, Al-Hussaini 2, Caram 2, Yeo 2, Chua 1, Faundo 0, Nabong 0, Uyloan 0
Quarterscores: 22-26, 42-36, 55-61, 81-79