Alaska whips Blackwater for 3rd win
ALASKA’s campaign is admittedly floundering and along came the veritable lifebuoy Blackwater is.
The Aces mercilessly pounced on the severely undermanned Elite side for a 107-87 Sunday that fanned their playoffs aspirations in the PBA Governors Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
LaDontae Henton sat out the final quarter but still did most of the damage with 33 points and eight rebounds in masterminding Alaska’s sustained breakaway from the second quarter on.
Kevin Racal, Ping Exciminiano and Chris Banchero also did their part as Alaska bounced back from a sorry 103-106 loss to San Miguel Beer last Wednesday to improve to a 3-5 win-loss record and stay in the hunt for one of the eight quarterfinals slots.
The fact Mike Cortez (left calf), Reil Cervantes (ankle), JP Erram (right ACL) and especially Eric Dawson (back) did not see action was one big advantage Aces coach Alex Compton was all too willing to exploit.
“Obviously, malaking bagay wala si Dawson,”said Compton.
“It’s nice to get back into the win column. We are not used to being where we are right now. This is the time when we needed a break.”
Alaska, currently tied with idle NLEX at ninth-running spot, could still make the quarterfinals should it win its remaining elimination round assignments against GlobalPort, Phoenix and NLEX, which are all with just three victories to show.
The win over Blackwater should give his charges the morale boost for their stretch run, according to Compton.
“We’re all battling for life (last 3 games). we have to look at each game that way,” said Compton.
“We’ll take this one,” added Compton. “It was a win we needed. We cannot go 2-6. This was crucial. That’s why I’ve been telling my players, ‘playoff na tayo.’ That’s how we have to look at it.”
The loss, its seventh in eight games, practically eliminated Blackwater from contention, although it could play off for the eighth spot if it wins its remaining games against Phoenix, GlobalPort and SMB.
The Elite intend to bolster their chance by bringing in a replacement for Dawson, who has now sat out two games, in time for their next outing against the Fuel Masters on Sept. 7.
“We tried to give Eric a chance, but now it seems he won’t be able to come back so we are looking at two possible replacements,” said Blackwater team manager Johnson Martinez.
“I’ll be talking to the agents involved later tonight and see who we’ll be able to enlist.”
It was indeed the lack of Dawson, his averages of 18.17 points and 15.17 rebounds and hulking presence inside that hurt Blackwater the most and Alaska readily pounced on.
Art dela Cruz tied his career high with 23 points, Carlo Lastimosa dded 18 and Riego Gamalinda and Jason Melano chipped in 10 apiece, but they could not prevent the Aces from stretching a 25-20 lead to 54-36 at the break and padding it even further to 30 points twice, the last at 84-54.
Fueling Alaska’s drive were Racal’s 12 points, Exciminaino’s 11 and Banchero, who only had eight markers but issued career high 12 assists.
ALASKA 107 – Henton 33, Racal 12, Exciminiano 11, Banchero 8, Abueva 7, Baclao 7, Thoss 6, Jazul 5, Casio 4, Dela Cruz 4, Dela Rosa 4, Mendoza 4, Hontiveros 2, Magat 0, Menk 0.
BLACKWATER 87 – Dela Cruz 23, Lastimosa 18, Gamalinda 10, Melano 10, Miranda 6, Reyes 5, Sena 4, Tiongson 3, Golla 2, Pascual 2, Qahwash 2, Sumang 2.
Quarters: 25-20, 54-36, 82-54, 107-87.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.