ROMEO Travis led a tough fourth-quarter as Alaska sent the Star Hotshots reeling to their fourth straight setback, 92-86, in the PBA Governors Cup on Wednesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The 6-foot-4 Travis scored eight of his game-high 27 points in the fourth quarter, none bigger than a falaway 15-footer over Marc Pingris with 50.9 seconds left to go to give the Aces a 90-83 cushion.
Although Joe Devance managed to knock down a three-pointer moments later, the Aces proved steadier in the endgame with JV Casio sealing the team’s fourth win in five starts with a corner jumper.
The victory sent Alaska into a tie for top spot with Barako Bull, which earlier fell to San Miguel Beer, 116-113.
“The one thing I really appreciated was our defensive effort in the end,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton after the Aces bounced back from a 104-103 loss to Talk ‘N Text last week in Antipolo.
“The stops that we got, and they were really high energy, we had to switch sometimes, digging down, and we had to grind it out.”
Star, which the last two editions of this conference, fell to 1-4 and found itself in the unfamiliar company of NLEX and Blackwater at the bottom of the standings.
Still, Compton believes the Hotshots are capable of bouncing back strong in the last half of the eliminations, citing their history of rebounding from slow starts.
“The one thing about Purefoods since coach Tim (Cone) got there is that they got many conferences when they started slow,” said Compton.
“So I was somewhere petrified or scared because they are a championship team, and when their backs are against the wall, that’s when they come out strong.”
Star, then known as San Mig, got off to a 1-5 start in last season’s Philippine Cup, but managed to recover en route to capturing the all-Filipino title.
Star shot 49 percent from the floor compared to Alaska’s 46 percent, but the Hotshots shot themselves in the foot with their 21 turnovers.
Pingris, who finished with eight points and six rebounds, accounted for five turnovers, while import Marqus Blakely and Joe Devance had four each.
Blakely led the Hotshots with 22 points and 12 rebounds, while Mark Barroca added 17.
Alaska 92 - Travis 27, Manuel 10, Baguio 9, Banchero 6, Thoss 6, Dela Rosa 6, Menk 6, Jazul 6, Exciminiano 5, Abueva 4, Casio 4, Hontiveros 3.
Star 86 - Blakely 22, Barroca 17, Yap 9, Pingris 8, Devance 8, Mallari 6, Maliksi 6, Reavis 4, Simon 4, Melton 2.
Quarterscores: 21-27, 44-44, 68-68, 92-86