MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Alaska Aces continued their magic run this 2018 as they survived a tough fightback from the Blackwater Elite, 88-84, to pocket their 4th straight win in the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup at the Araneta Coliseum Saturday, January 27.
Alaska led by 7 points with less than 3 minutes left in the 4th quarter but saw it turned to ashes as Mac Belo and Mike Digregorio fired back-to-back triples to make it a one-point game for Blackwater, 80-81.
Fortunately, a pair of Chris Banchero charities and a clutch Jeron Teng trey with 1:04 minutes left gave the Aces enough breathing room, 86-80, as Allein Maliksi and Belo missed both of their 3-point attempts that would have put the Elite within striking distance.
Chris Banchero paced Alaska, which improved to 4-2 for 3rd place, with 16 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals, and 2 assists while Vic Manuela made his presence felt with 16 points, 9 coming in the 3rd quarter alone, to go with 6 rebounds and 2 assists.
Kevin Racal had 14 points in the win while Teng chipped in 10.
Early in the fourth quarter, Blackwater, which was trailing 72-74, had the chance to take its first lead of the game since its 1-0 advantage early only to have Maliksi and Poy Erram missing a combined 5 free throw attempts. Before that, Mac Belo also missed both of his freebies.
The Elite, who finished the first 3 quarters with a perfect 5-of-5 shooting at the line, only made 3 of their 10 attempts in the last frame.
“I am very relieved. I think obviously it helped us that they missed a bunch of free throws. It seemed like in the second half, they really missed a bunch and in a close game, that matters,” said Alaska head coach Alex Compton.
Despite Calvin Abueva’s absence, the Aces had the upper hand for most of the bout, even leading by as much as 14 points in the second period before the Elite threatened a comeback in the final quarter.
Erram was on another level as he registered 14 points, 21 rebounds, 5 blocks and 2 steals but still was not enough as the Elite crashed to their 3rd straight loss for a 2-4 card.
Belo finished with 15 points and 7 rebounds while Digregorio also fired 15 markers and 5 boards.
Alaska (88): Banchero 16, Manuel 16, Racal 14, Teng 10, Casio 7, Enciso 6, Cruz 5, Baclao 4, Thoss 3, Pascual 3, Magat 2, Exciminiano 2, Potts 0.
Blackwater (84): Digregorio 15, Belo 15, Erram 14, Sumang 10, Maliksi 10, Jose 8, Cortez 5, Sena 5, Cruz 2, Marcelo 0, Javier 0, Pinto 0.
Quarter scores: 20-16, 43-35, 67-61, 88-84.