Walker’s near triple-double lead Aces past Beermen

Naveen Ganglani
Walker’s near triple-double lead Aces past Beermen
Billy Walker was one assist from a triple double in his debut for the Alaska Aces to lead his team to victory in their Governors' Cup opener

MANILA, Philippines – Despite having to deal with 42 points from San Miguel Beermen import Reggie Williams, the Alaska Aces managed to pull away late thanks to their overall team effort and win their first game in the PBA PLDT Home Telpad Governors’ Cup, 94-87, on Sunday evening, May 18, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Aces got 27 points, 13 rebounds, and nine assists from their own import, Billy Walker, who was dealing with cramps late in the fourth quarter.

“Billy Walker had cramps, so we sat him out a bit,” mentioned Alaska head coach Luigi Trillo after the game. He also added that it was the passion exhibited by Sonny Thoss, who finished with 18 points and nine boards, that helped propel his squad.

“Again, also just happy and proud of Sonny Thoss. He was the main reason; he was playing with a lot of fire.”

Alaska also received 12 markers and seven boards from Calvin Abueva, who had a tough time defending with Williams, who also contributed nine rebounds and five dimes in the losing effort. 

Only one other San Miguel player scored in double-figures – June Mar Fajardo, who submitted 13 points and 16 rebounds.

“It was nice to see them (his team) score 94, and holding San Miguel down to 87,” added Coach Trillo.

The fourth quarter commenced with Gabby Espinas, who totaled 10 markers and seven rebounds, helping Alaska retake the lead, 71-70, after a late surge by Williams in the third period gave San Miguel the lead.

Both teams proceeded to exchange baskets, as the Beermen went back up by one, 76-75, thanks to a Fajardo bunny at the rim.

But due to a series of SMB turnovers, Alaska was able to get out on the break and earn easy opportunities near the basket. One of which helped Abueva earn a three-point play, which put his squad up five, 82-77, with a little over seven minutes to go.

However, much like they did the entire game, San Miguel didn’t cave in and tied the contest at 82 after Williams’ third 3-ball of the second half upped his total to 37.

With 2:30 to go, both squads were dead even at 87. The tie was eventually broken by Thoss, whose lay-in awarded the Aces with an 89-87 edge.

After Williams missed a potential game tying three-pointer, Abueva came back on the other end and converted a mid-range J to extend Alaska’s breathing room to five, 92-87.

Williams was fouled on the succeeding possession, but missed both attempts at the line, sealing SMB’s loss.

“Both these teams were knocked out last conference, and both these teams, obviously, wanted to get a win,” mentioned the Alaska head coach. 

Trillo also talked about the tough schedule of the Governors’ Cup, indicating that momentum will be key for the teams searching for a title.

“It’s an open race for anyone,” he said. “It’s really going to be about rhythm for most teams.”

Both clubs got off to a pretty good start, as the two imports carried the scoring burden early on. Five minutes into the contest, the Aces and Beermen were tied at 11, following a put-back lay-up by Fajardo.

It was Alaska that managed to erect an early advantage first, going up by six, 18-12, thanks to Walker’s second triple of the afternoon. However, San Miguel refused to bow early, and trimmed its adversaries’ lead to two, 20-18, by the end of the first quarter.

The second canto began with tempers flaring, as Abueva and Ronald Tubid – no strangers to confrontations – both got assessed with technical fouls. Eventually, the Beermen would regain the lead, going on top 27-25 courtesy of some Justin Chua charities.

The Aces also had no answer for Williams, who got into the paint at will and recorded 20 points by halftime. Nevertheless, Alaska reclaimed the momentum, building another six-point cushion, 38-32, following a tip-in by Thoss, who helped his team win the rebounding battle in the first half of the game. 

San Miguel had troubles early on containing Walker, who stroked three long-range bombs and had 17 markers after 24 minutes of action. Still, the Beermen managed to not let the Aces extend the lead to double-figures, as Williams’ penetration and series of acrobatic lay-ups got the team within three, 43-40, at the half.

After a corner three from Marco Lassiter, who finished going 2-of-7 from the field, deadlocked the match to begin the second half, Alaska unfurled a 10-5 run – capped of by a Dondon Hontiveros 3-ball – to build another small threshold, 53-48. 

The Beermen tried to regain the advantage, but the Aces had an answer for every shot San Miguel managed to hit. With Walker attacking the interior rather than settling for outside shots in the third quarter, Alaska was able to hold its opponents at bay and extended its lead to seven, 67-60, late in the period.

In need of a spark, Head Coach Biboy Ravenas turned to Rico Maierhofer, who converted four quick points to put a halt to the Aces’ run. Moments later, Williams tried his luck from the outside and connected on a triple to tie the contest at 67, and then followed that up by hitting another three to give San Miguel its first lead in the third quarter. 

Entering the deciding period, the Beermen were on top by one, 70-69.


Alaska Aces (94): Walker 27, Thoss 18, Abueva 12, Espinas 10, Baguio 7, Casio 6, Jazul 6, Hontiveros 6, Manuel 2

San Miguel Beermen (87): Williams 42, Fajardo 13, Lassiter 8, Maierhofer 6, Tubid 6, Mercado 5, Santos 3, Lutz 2, Chua 2, Lanete 0, Kramer 0, Ross 0

Quarter Scoring: 20-18, 43-40, 69-70, 94-87


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