Alaska relied on bench players to crush the Star Hotshots anew, 95-74, grabbing a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five semifinals of 40th Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup on Friday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Import Romeo Travis finished with 19 points and 14 rebounds while bench players 6’7 Nonoy Baclao and Chris ‘Ping’ Exciminiano contributed 10 points each for the Aces.
Calvin Abueva scored 11 points, Chris Banchero and Vic Manuel had nine points apiece while Cyrus Baguio and Dondon Hontiveros added eight points each also for Alaska.
“Defense is about character and I absolutely love seeing Ping and Baclao playing like an all-star,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton. “This is fantastic and I really love what I saw today. This is a big win for us.”
Unlike their performance in Game 1, the Aces led by import Travis and forward Abueva started scoring heavily in the second quarter to post a 47-41 lead for their team at halftime. Abueva was called for his fourth personal foul when he hit Blakely before the halftime break.
The Hotshots played aggressively in the third quarter but couldn’t execute their defense properly. Alaska’s exploited the opportunity with bench player Baclao scoring four baskets amounting to eight points total that giving Alaska a 69-58 lead before the third frame ends.
Banchero gave the Aces a 13-point advantage, 71-58, by the end of third period.
Alaska showed its vast experience stretching the lead to as much as 19 points before the game ends.
Star import Marcus Blakely scored 19 points and eight rebounds while teammate Peter June Simon made 17 points.
On Saturday, the San Miguel Beermen will gun for a 2-0 lead against the Rain or Shine Elasto Paintmasters in Game 2 of the other best-of-five semifinals in at the same venue.
Game time starts at 5:00 pm.
Down with a 24-point deficit, 19-43, in the second quarter, San Miguel Beer under head coach Leo Austria bounced back to beat Rain or Shine 101-95 establishing a 1-0 advantage in the series.
“Rain or Shine is very motivated and they’re creating a mismatch in June Mar. They wanted June Mar outside of the shaded area with Lee doing the pick n’ roll. He’s unstoppable with that,” said Austria. “That’s why we cannot afford to start slow. We should control the game from start to finish.”
Import Arizona Reid delivered 22 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists against the team of his former mentor, while Marcio Lassiter delivered 22 points. They are expected to lead the Beermen anew with the support of Arwind Santos, Alex Cabagnot and June Mar Fajardo, among others in Game Two.
All-around import Wendell McKines, who had 33 points and 16 rebounds in Game One, is expected to double his effort in Game Two with the help of combo guard Paul Lee, Jeff Chan, Chris Tiu, 6’7 center Raymond Almazan, Gabe Norwood, Jireh Ibañez and Ryan Arana, among others.
“We will bounce back and equalize the series,” said Rain or Shine forward Ryan Araña.