AN undermanned Alaska still proved too much as it dethroned Tropang TNT, 99-81, on Friday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum to complete the semifinal cast in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
The Aces, despite missing injured leading scorer Vic Manuel, turned an expected dogfight into a blowout, leaning on their suffocating pressure defense anew to arrange a Final Four meeting against Meralco starting on Monday.
Rob Dozier and Calvin Abueva shone as usual, but Eric Menk, Tony dela Cruz, and Noy Baclao provided a huge boost in the absence of Manuel as well as JVee Casio.
“I certainly didn’t expect that (blowout),” Aces coach Alex Compton said. “Our defense would have to be near perfect, but that’s about all I could ask for. I thought that was special (what we did) defensively.”
Dozier registered 20 points, 14 boards, four blocks, two assists, and one steal, while Abueva added 18 and six to lead the Aces, but it was their bench that spelled the biggest difference.
Menk put up a conference-high 10 markers, while Dela Cruz chipped in nine points to lead a bench unit that scored 48 points, compared to just 22 for the Texters.
The game was still tightly fought halfway through the second quarter before the Aces closed the first half on a 22-7 run that sparked the rout.
The Aces led by as many as 25 points as their swarming defense forced the Texters to commit 20 turnovers that translated into 27 points off errors.
David Simon tallied 20 points and 13 boards, but committed seven turnovers, while Larry Fonacier was on target with 19 markers, although Jayson Castro fired blanks anew with just six points on 2-of-10 shooting.
ALASKA 99 – Dozier 20, Abueva 18, Menk 10, Baguio 8, Dela Cruz 8, Exciminiano 8, Hontiveros 8, Thoss 8, Jazul 7, Baclao 4, Banchero 0
TNT 81 – Simon 20, Fonacier 19, Rosario 13, De Ocampo 8, Castro 6, Reyes R. 5, Tautuaa 4, Carey 2, Rosser 2, Williams 2, Ababou 0
Quarterscores: 21-21, 53-37, 77-57, 99-81