Alaska displayed anew its prowess as a defensive team in Game 2 by beating San Miguel Beer, 83-80, to post a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven finals of the Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Philippine Cup at the Araneta Coliseum on Tuesday.
Power forward Vic Manuel led the Aces with 18 points via 8-of-11 shooting in the field in addition to seven rebounds and two free throws. The latter was notched in the dying seconds of the game en route to the Aces’ victory.
Dondon Hontiveros, who finished with 12 points, gave the Aces a one-point lead 81-80 with a free throw in the last seconds of the match.
Cyrus Baguio scored 10 points while Calvin Abueva added nine points also for Alaska.
“I’m really glad to win that one that’s for sure,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton. “Great game plan by coach Leo Austria—well executed. There were some hairy moments that we had hope the fans enjoyed, we didn’t.”
“Vic [Manuel] has the capacity to dominate the game. Vic lead us in scoring all conference.”
Alex Cabagnot led the Beermen with 23 points via 9-of-15 shooting.
Alaska played cohesively as a unit in the opening quarter and executed its offense precisely to establish a 23-18 edge at the start of the second frame. Despite the Beermen’s resistance in the first half, the Aces maintained their lead at halftime 39-36.
Manuel, who matched his career-high 24 points on Sunday, started the game on a high note scoring 12 points at halftime. For the second straight game, Alaska obviously took advantage of June Mar Fajardo’s absence outclassing SMB in the rebound department 25-20 at half time.
The 6’10 center Fajardo is still nursing an injured left knee.
San Miguel Beer fought strong in the second half and even established a one-point advantage twice but Alaska managed to dominate the remaining part of the match.
Meanwhile, Alaska rehired the 6’9 Best Import awardee Robert Dozier for the Commissioners Cup that will begin next month.
Dozier, who steered the Aces to beat Ginebra in the 2013 Commissioners Cup predicts that Alaska would win this year’s Philippine Cup.
“If they keep playing as a unit and keep their defense intact, they [Alaska] are a hard team to beat,” Dozier told The Manila Times.
“They are near winning the title. Now, they have another opportunity. I believe they could win the championship this time. I’m excited to play for coach Alex [Compton]. He was the assistant coach when I played there in the 2013 season.
Dozier, 30, known for his all-around game, averaged 20.1 points, 17.5 rebounds, 2.9 blocks and 2.5 assists per game in the 2013 Commissioners’s Cup. JOSEF RAMOS