Alaska warded off Rain or Shine’s huge fourth quarter comeback by posting a 105-102 win to stay undefeated in four games in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Commissioner’s Cup on Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Import Corey Jefferson, who racked up 41 points on 17-of-32 shooting in the field, 13 rebounds, three assists and a block, scored crucial baskets in the endgame to help the Aces avoid a fourth quarter meltdown on the way to a 4-0 win-loss record.
“Corey hit some big shots and that’s what you like to see your import do,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton during the post game interview. “Any point guard in the world is expected to make those free throws and that’s what Jayvee (Casio) did.”
“I told our guys that this game would come to the last possession. Mike Tolomia is a tough guy and he made life harder for us, (Shawn) Taggart also played great for them. But I’m thankful my import took those big shots.”
Center Sonny Thoss added 15 points and five rebounds, while Calvin Abueva made 10 points and three blocks also for the Aces, who still played without injured players Chris Banchero (broken finger), Vic Manuel (sprain), Dondon Hotiveros (partial tear on meniscus) and big man Nonoy Baclao (knee).
Jefferson nailed a jumper in the last 3:09 of second period, providing the Aces a 47-38 edge. But the Elasto Painters, behind the two baskets of import Shawn Taggart and Jewel Ponferada, trimmed the deficit to 44-50 at the end of the first two quarters.
The Aces turned unstoppable with Jefferson scoring 18 points in the third quarter, including his three-pointer with 3:35 to go, which gave them their biggest lead, 75-61. Alaska took an 80-71 cushion at the start of the payoff period.
Rain or Shine made the game interesting when rookie Mike Tolomia and veteran James Yap scored trey each to seize the advantage, 91-87, with 5:39 to go in the last period. Taggart even put Rain or Shine on top, 97-93, with only 1:52 left in the game.
But Jefferson hit two triples and Thoss had a two-pointer to help the Aces regain a 101-99 lead with 31 seconds left. Rookie playmaker Mike Tolomia, who gave Rain or Shine its last lead, 99-98, with a minute left, fumbled in the last 23 seconds allowing the Aces to get the possession.
Taggart’s three-pointer in last 11 seconds narrowed the gap to just 103-102.
But veteran guard Jayvee Casio, who had 16 points and eight assists, sank four free throws to provide Alaska a 105-102 lead with still seven seconds left in the game and Tolomia’s potential game-tying buzzer-beating trey was off the mark.
Taggart led Rain or Shine with 40 points and 14 rebounds, but the Elasto Painters dropped to back-to-back losses for a 3-2 win-loss record. Jericho Cruz and Tolomia finished with 11 and nine points, respectively, also for the Elasto Painters.
ALASKA 105 – Jefferson 41, Casio 16, Thoss 15, Abueva 11, Racal 6, Enciso 5, Exciminiano 3, Andrada 3, Pascual 2, Cruz 2, Mendoza 1.
RAIN OR SHINE 102 – Taggart 40, Cruz 11, Tolomia 9, Yap 8, Norwood 8, Chan 7, Belga 6, Almazan 4, Washington 4, Tiu 3, Ponferada 2, Ahanmisi 0.
Quarter Scores: 26-29, 50-44, 80-71, 105-102.