GABBY Espinas and Calvin Abueva hit one huge basket after the other in the final period as Alaska enhanced its playoff hopes with a 78-71 victory over Barako Bull in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Espinas fired six of his 14 points in the final period while making Barako Bull import Joshua Dollard bleed for every point when the Aces methodically erased the Energy’s seven-point third-quarter advantage.
On the other hand, Abueva banged in six of his nine points in the final canto to go along with nine boards, providing the rugged physical presence as the Aces booked their third straight win to improve to 4-3 overall.
“I think we did a good defensive job again,” said Alaska coach Luigi Trillo, comparing Abueva's work ethic to Alaska big boss Wilfred Uytengsu's.
“Barako averages 98 points per game, but we gave them 71 points, so I’m just proud of Gabby and Calvin, who is some sort of like having a Mr. Uytengsu-type of work ethic,” he added.
Barako Bull closed in at 67-70 with one minute left in the game, but Alaska guard JV Casio scored on a floater and RJ Jazul and import Robert Dozier combined for six straight free throws to seal the deal.
The Energy's fifth loss in seven games kept GlobalPort’s slim playoff hopes alive a woeful 0-7 record.
The Batang Pier will have to sweep their last two matches and hope that the Energy and the Barangay Ginebra Kings don’t go beyond two wins to earn a playoff shot at a quarterfinal berth.
Dozier led Alaska with 18 points, along with 15 rebounds and two steals.
Dollard led the Energy with 26 points and 16 rebounds, but he also had six turnovers.
Alaska 78 - Dozier 18, Espinas 14, Casio 10, Abueva 9, Hontiveros 8, Jazul 6, Thoss 6, Manuel 4, Baguio 3, Reyes 0, Dela Cruz 0.
Barako 71 - Dollard 26, Pennisi 12, Miller 7, Isip 6, Miranda 6, Lastimosa 5, Fortuna 2, Buenafe 2, Pena 2, Wilson 1, Marcelo 0.
Quarterscores: 13-17, 26-30, 53-50, 78-71