MANILA, Philippines - San Mig Coffee's hustle and defensive intensity resurfaced the moment James Mays and Marc Pingris returned to action, but you need all 48 minutes to win games.
The defending Commissioner's Cup champions Alaska Aces just showed that after firing a crippling run in the fourth period to take down San Mig Coffee anew, 86-77 in Game 1 of their quarterfinals series in the PLDT Home TVolution PBA Commissioner's Cup on Monday, April 21 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Teams fought back and forth, toe to toe as both infused physicality on both ends of the floor. Neither team led by double-digits until the fourth quarter, before the Aces romped with a searing 14-0 blitz that opened a giant 84-69 bubble in the final two minutes of play.
Sonny Thoss scored 6 while JVee Casio added 5 in that critical stretch that broke the game wide open, favoring the defending champions.
Alaska left the Mixers without a bucket for over 6 minutes before the latter tried desperately to pull a miracle out of it.
Mark Barroca, PJ Simon, and James Mays conspired in an 8-0 rally that brought the Mixers within 77-84, but Alaska managed to push themselves to safety.
It takes two (wins) to knock them out. Mays is a monster in the first half but slowed down in the second half a bit," said head coach Luigi Trillo, whose wards zoomed to their 6th straight win.
Rob Dozier poured 24 points, 15 rebounds, and 3 blocks while Cyrus Baguio added 14, including 8 in the payoff period.
The Aces shot better from the field at 45.3% compared to just 36.1% for the Mixers. The Mixers dominated the hustle stats as expected, grabbing more offensive boards (25-14) and scoring more second chance points (16-6). However, their 29 fouls led to 36 free throw attempts from Alaska, where the Aces converted on 23 - 13 more than the Mixers.
Sonny Thoss also did a terrific job of limiting San Mig import James Mays to just 7 points in the second half after switching at him on defense.
Mays managed to finish with 18 points and 11 boards while Mark Barroca added 17.
Alaska can go for the kill while San Mig fights for life on Wednesday, April 23 at the same venue.
Alaska (86) - Dozier 24, Baguio 14, Abueva 12, Thoss 12, Espinas 9, Casio 8, Jazul 6, Hontiveros 1, Reyes 0, Dela Cruz 0, Manuel 0.
San Mig Coffee (77) - Mays 18, Barroca 17, Yap 12, Simon 10, Devance 9, Melton 7, Pingris 4, Mallari 0, Sangalang 0, Reavis 0.
Quarter scores: 19-18, 37-39, 62-61, 86-77.