The Alaska Aces tore down San Mig Coffee, using their full roster to spread out a balanced offense en route to victory
MANILA, Philippines – The defending Commissioner’s Cup champions Alaska Aces sent out a message to the rest of the league on Easter Sunday, April 20: We are still here and we are ready to defend our crown.
Alaska trounced a depleted San Mig Super Coffee Mixers, 85-66, in the 2014 PLDT Home TVolution Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on their way to securing the third seed heading into the playoffs.
The Aces took full advantage of their complete roster as head coach Luigi Trillo fought not only to win but to pace his players for the quarterfinals that will start tomorrow, April 21.
“For them (San Mig Coffee) it was about rest in this game. For us it was a little bit about rhythm,” Trillo explained. “We wanted to shorten the minutes of out starters but we wanted them getting a good rhythm in.”
He explained further: “We’re big picture-thinking. Certainly we wanted to play hard but we also want to play smart. We don’t want to stretch our starters for 40 minutes and then you get into a best-of-3 the next game.”
The well-balanced Aces raced to a 22-14 first quarter advantage right away, setting the tempo of the game on the defensive end as the Mixers sorely felt the absence of 4 vital cogs to their team. James Yap, Marc Pingris, import James Mays and Justin Melton all sat out their last elimination game to rest up and heal their injuries in time for the playoffs.
Playing import-less with Mays nursing back spasms, San Mig buried themselves in a deep hole that they could never climb out of.
After leading by 10 at halftime, 44-34, Alaska busted the game wide open with a 21-point edge during the early goings of the second half after Raphael Reyes connected on a long jumper, 57-36.
San Mig countered with a sputtering 6-0 run capped by an emphatic jam by Rafi Reavis on the break, 57-42, in an attempt to wake his teammates up.
Though the Aces never relaxed or settled for low percentage shots despite their big lead, resulting to a quite daunting 67-48 spread in their favor coming into the final frame.
Alaska set their widest distance from San Mig at 23 points with 7:25 left to play on a Ryan Buenafe baseline basket, 75-52.
The Aces are defending their 2013 Commissioner’s Cup crown and are bracing for the rough and bumpy road in the playoffs.
“There’s always uncertainty, it’s never a sure thing,” Trillo said when asked whether he thinks his team is on his desired pace as far as their title defense is concerned.
“All these teams are strong. The one time we feel like we’re better than we are, it’s a letdown. The first few times we were losing, we were playing well defensively. And then the last few games we’re still playing defense, it’s still there, but our offense now is starting to hum.”
Alaska shot better than San Mig in this game at 43.5% despite not a single player from their squad coming up with double figures. Import Rob Dozier led Alaska with 8 points and 6 rebounds. Raphael Reyes and Vic Manuel followed with 8 points apiece as well.
San Mig, on the other hand, shot 40% and was led by Yancy de Ocampo’s 10 markers. Val Acuña and Jerwin Gaco added 9 points each as well.
Both squads exhausted the length of their bench in this game as guys like rookies Buenafe and Chris Exciminiano as well as Reyes played for more than 12 minutes for Alaska.
For the Mixers, seldom used guys such as Gaco, Acuña and rookies JR Cawaling and Isaac Holstein also got some playing time.
Every player for both teams were on the board with at least two points.
Alaska will face either San Mig Coffee or Barangay Ginebra depending on the winner of the game between Ginebra and Rain or Shine.
Alaska 85: Dozier 8, Reyes 8, Manuel 8, Jazul 7, Buenafe 7, Abueva 7, Espinas 6, Exciminiano 6, Eman 6, Casio 5, Baguio 5, Dela Cruz 4, Thoss 4, Belasco 2, Hontiveros 2.
San Mig Coffee 66: De Ocampo 10, Acuña 9, Gaco 9, Cawaling 8, Devance 6, Simon 5, Reavis 5, Barroca 4, Mallari 4, Holstein 4, Sangalang 2.
Quarter scores: 22-14; 44-34; 67-48; 85-66.
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