Aces survive Fajardo-less Beermen in finals opener
Alaska escaped a shorthanded San Miguel Beer side, 100-91, to take Game 1 of the 2016 Smart Bro PBA Philippine Cup Finals Sunday night at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Vic Manuel scored 14 of his playoff career-high 24 points in the fourth quarter, where the Aces came back from 12 points down.
The Beermen, who didn’t have their superstar center June Mar Fajardo due to a knee injury, led majority of the game before the Aces closed the game on a 9-1 run inside the final two minutes.
“San Miguel handled us for most of the game. I dunno how long they had the lead, but I didn’t like the way we were playing,” said Alaska head coach Alex Compton. “We’re just able to string together a bunch of stops. We just had some guys step up and make some plays late.”
Game 2 is on Tuesday night also at the Big Dome.
Alaska, which trailed, 78-66, early in the fourth quarter, took the lead for good, 93-91, on a hook shot by Manuel with 1:46 left before a 3-pointer by JVee Casio and a follow up by Chris Banchero pushed the Aces’ advantage to seven, 98-91, with under 40 seconds left.
The Aces out-rebounded the Beermen, 48-28. Calvin Abueva collected 12 points and 13 rebounds while Cyrus Baguio and Chris Banchero scored 16 and 15 points, respectively.
Down 10 at the 9:31 mark of the last period, Alaska pulled ahead, 88-86, after going on a 16-4 blast capped by a basket by Abueva with 2:53 remaining.
The Beermen had five players in double figures led by Alex Cabagnot’s 20 points. Marcio Lassiter had 19 while backup big men Yancy de Ocampo and Gabby Espinas gave their team a lift as both combined for 29 points and 15 rebounds.
Alaska also won Game 1 of the Philippine Cup Finals last season but went on to lose the series in a Game 7.
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