VIC Manuel spoiled Renaldo Balkman’s return to the PBA, hitting a buzzer-beater to lift Alaska to a thrilling 105-103 win over San Miguel on Saturday in Commissioner’s Cup action at the Lamberto Macias Sports and Cultural Center in Dumaguete City.
Manuel’s floater sealed the win for the Aces, who notched their fourth straight win to improve their record to 4-1 and join Rain or Shine and TNT on top of the standings.
It was San Miguel’s third straight loss as the Beermen remained winless despite the return of Balkman, who played his first game in the PBA since his lifetime ban was lifted recently by the league.
Manuel finished with a game-high 23 points but none bigger than the game-winning basket that came after Balkman tied the game at 103.
Balkman tallied 32 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, and three steals, but committed a turnover when he was stripped by Antonio Campbell, the ball hitting Balkman’s foot to give Alaska the final possession of the Petron Saturday Special.
Alaska escaped with the win even after losing a lead as many as 22 points late in the fourth. Manuel thwarted repeated rallies by San Miguel, scoring seven in a 10-2 run that hiked Alaska’s lead to 10, 90-80.
San Miguel, however, refused to wilt when the Beermen were able to tie the game at 100 and again at 103 on a Balkman basket.
JV Casio had 18 points, while Campbell had 13 points despite spending most of the first half on the bench due to three fouls.
Christian Standhardinger had 22 points, while Marcio Lassiter added 20 points for the reigning Commissioner’s Cup champions, who will enter the All-Star break still without a victory.
ALASKA 105 - Manuel 23, Casio 18, Banchero 15, Campbell 13, Abueva 13, Racal 7, Magat 5, Thoss 4, Exciminiano 3, Enciso 2, Teng 2, Baclao 0, Pascual 0
SMB 103 - Balkman 32, Standhardinger 22, Lassiter 20, Santos 12, Fajardo 7, Lanete 6, Cabagnot 4, Ross
Quarterscores: 28-20, 57-43, 81-72, 105-103