The Alaska Aces routed the Meralco Bolts, 92-72, in Game 3 of the best-of-five semifinals of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Friday. Alaska is now leading the series 2-1.
Import Rob Dozier led the Aces with 25 points and 14 points while Calvin Abueva finished with 23 markers and 12 boards.
Meralco had a strong start with veteran guard Jimmy Alapag leading the charge with two early conversions from beyond the arc resulting in his team posting a 20-15 lead after the first 12 minutes of play.
However, the Aces’ offense began to take effect midway through the second half. Alaska, at the 6:34 minute mark, bridged the gap 29-29, following a jumper by Nonoy Baclao. Another deadlock occurred, 38-38, going into the halftime intermission.
After the break, an upbeat Aces off a shot of Abueva initiated a 6-0 run to finally overtake the Bolts, 44-38, in the initial minutes of the third period.
The Aces scored aggressively before the end of the third period to erect a 66-54 lead with just a quarter left in the match.
Defensive problems continued to trouble the Bolts halfway through the last canto as Abueva extended The Aces’ lead to 18 points, 80-62, with just 5:05 minutes left in the game.
All went downhill for Meralco in the final stretch as consecutive turnovers denied them of all chances of recovery before the end of regulation.
Alaska edged Meralco on second chance points, 31-15, as well as on turnovers, 26-13.
Chris Banchero ended the game with 16 points off a perfect three-out-of-three shooting performance from the three-point territory plus six rebounds.
Eric Menk notched six points while Baclao, Cyrus Baguio, Chris Exciminiano and RJ Jazul each had four points.
Arinze Onuaku posted 16 points and 12 boards while Alapag, Cliff Hodge and Reynel Hugnatan notched 12 points each for the Bolts.
“In Game 2, we defended for 39 minutes and we defended well for 48 minutes in Game 3,” Alaska head coach Alex Compton said during the postgame news conference.
He stressed that they pressured the Bolts better this time rendering several Meralco key players scoreless after 48 minutes of play.
“I thought today we didn’t give them that many wide-open shots. We still gave open shots but it was not that many.”
“Our team defense on Onuaku is better [this game],” Compton added.
Compton also commended Abueva, who played for a total of 31:19 minutes providing crucial stops against Meralco, “I thought Calvin disturbed their offense very well.”
Game 4 between the Alaska Aces and the Meralco Bolts is set at 7 p.m. on Monday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
ALASKA 92 – Dozier 25, Abueva 23, Banchero 16, Menk 6, Baclao 4, Baguio 4, Exciminiano 4, Jazul 4, Hontiveros 2, Thoss 2, Dela Rosa 1, Racal 1, Dela Cruz 0, Eman 0.
MERALCO 72 – Onuaku 16, Alapag 12, Hodge 12, Hugnatan 12, Dillinger 9, Buenafe Ry 5, Caram 4, Faundo 2, Amer 0, Bono 0, Ferriols 0, Guevarra 0, Newsome 0.
Quarters: 15-20, 38-38, 66-54, 92-72