Power forward Vic Manuel, healed from a calf injury, led Alaska to a 100-85 win over Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX) on Friday in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Governors’ Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The crucial victory allowed the Aces to clinch the No. 6 quarterfinals slot. The Aces’ win-loss record improved to 6-5.
The former Philippine College of Business Administration standout, Manuel, made an impressive return by posting 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting in the field.
“I’m glad we won that one,” Alaska coach Alex Compton told reporters during the postgame interview. “That half time we got up 15. A lot of games, NLEX was downed but they came back. I appreciate the heart of the guys. I appreciate them continuing to defend.”
Import LaDontae Henton notched 27 points, seven rebounds and three blocks, while combo guard RJ Jazul finished with 14 points, six assists and three steals to lead the Aces.
“Obviously, they missed Garvo (Lanete). It’s nice to have Vic (Manuel) back; it was really tough last conference that we lost him. Now is the playoffs, we’re waiting to see who we’re playing,” added Compton.
Center Sonny Thoss contributed 10 points, 10 rebounds plus two blocks, while Calvin Abueva chipped in another 10 points in addition to 11 rebounds and two steals. The Aces are likely to play against reigning champion San Miguel Beer or Barangay Ginebra at the start of the quarterfinals.
The Beermen and the Gin Kings are both holding a twice-to-beat advantage going into the quarterfinals.
The Aces started the game aggressively en route to a 24-19 lead at the beginning of second period. Alaska initiated a 16-3 run highlighted by Henton’s three-point play and Jazul’s two treys resulting in a 52-37 advantage going to the halftime break.
The Road Warriors fought back to close the gap, 75-70, in the fourth quarter behind import Henry Bill Walker.
But Alaska foiled their effort with an 8-0 run with three-pointers from Henton and Dondon Hontiveros that stretched their lead to 83-70. The Aces controlled the remaining minutes of the match to secure the win.
Despite the loss, NLEX remains in the quarterfinals race with a 5-6 win-loss record good enough to be the 7th or 8th seed.
Import Henry Bill Walker led the Road Warriors with 29 points, 10 rebounds and three assists while Paul Asi Taulava had 14 points.
ALASKA 100—Henton 27, Jazul 14, Manuel 13, Thoss 10, Abueva 10, Casio 7, Racal 6, Banchero 3, Exciminiano 3, Hontiveros 3, Baclao 2, Dela Rosa 2, Magat 0, Dela Cruz 0, Galliguez 0.
NLEX 85—Walker 29, Taulava 14, Anthony 11, Khobuntin 10, Villanuev E. 9, Villanueva J. 4, Akl 3, Arboleda 3, Baracael 2, Alas 0, Camson 0, Monfort 0, Reyes 0, Soyud 0, Lanete 0.
Quarter Scores: 24-19, 52-37, 75-64, 100-85