MANILA, Philippines – Petron Blaze Boosters survived a gritty comeback from Calvin Abueva and the rest of the Aces who fought until the end for a close 86-85 win in the PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup on Saturday, December 7 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
After the Aces built a 69-67 edge with just 7:59 remaining in the game, the Boosters responded with 11 unanswered points to overtake Alaska, 78-69.
Both teams then traded blows in a heated exchange. With the shot clock winding down, June Mar Fajardo bailed out Petron with a crucial basket to give Petron a comfortable 85-79 edge.
But a triple by JVee Casio cut the deficit down to three. Botched attempts from Petron led to a Calvin Abueva drive on the other side but his shot went astray after bumping into Doug Kramer.
Referees did not call a foul, infuriating the Alaska coaching staff. Fajardo came with a split before RJ Jazul sank a trey to make 86-85.
Paolo Hubalde was sent to the stripe in the final 1.3 seconds of the game, but muffed two free throws that opened the door for Alaska. Dondon Hontiveros grabbed the rebound and quickly called for a timeout with just one second left.
Since Alaska was out of timeouts, a technical foul was assessed but Marcio Lassiter failed to hit the technical free throw.
Tony Dela Cruz inbounded from the backcourt but the ball was intercepted by Arwind Santos as time went out, pushing Petron to their 5th straight win in as many games.
“It’s a character win. My players refused to lose in the dying seconds,” said Petron head coach Gee Abanilla.
“Alaska came in to play tonight, they played well. We’re able to hold off Alaska even if we missed a last of free throws in the end.”
Gallant stand from Abueva
Calvin Abueva stole the show when he returned in the second half after a bad fall in the first quarter.
Abueva’s head hit the basketball goal’s post hard after drawing an offensive foul from Jojo Duncil. He was lying on the floor, badly shaken for minutes before being able to get up.
Abueva spearheaded a second half resurgence for the Aces, pouring all but 2 of his 17 points in the final 24 minutes of the match.
June Mar Fajardo had another double-double performance, scoring 20 points on an impressive 12-of-14 shooting from the stripe. He added 12 rebounds. Chris Lutz fired 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists for the still unbeaten Petron squad.
RJ Jazul led the Aces with 18 points.
Petron (86) – Fajardo 20, Lutz 15, Santos 15, Lassiter 12, Hubalde 10, Kramer 9, Duncil 3, Lanete 2, Deutchman 0.
Alaska (85) – Jazul 18, Abueva 17, Espinas 11, Thoss 9, Baguio 9, Casio 8, Buenafe 3, Belasco 2, Dela Cruz 2, Hontiveros 2, Avenido 2, Exciminiano 2, Ramos 0, Eman 0.
Quarters: 17-17, 35-37, 56-56, 86-85
– with reports from Levi Verora/Rappler.com
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