Travis leads streaking Aces past slumping Hotshots
MANILA, Philippines - The Alaska Aces grabbed share of the top spot in the PBA Governors’ Cup standings with their fourth win in 5 games by taking down the Star Hotshots, 92-86, on Wednesday, May 27, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Alaska import Romeo Travis - the high school teammate of NBA superstar LeBron James - was all over the floor on Wednesday, resembling the dominant effort of his former comrade in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals by finishing with 27 points, 14 rebounds, 7 assists, and 5 steals.
Travis, who played high school ball with James at St. Vincent-St. Mary’s, also hit a clutch, turnaround jumper in the post that created breathing room between the two teams late in the fourth quarter.
The Aces defense let the Hotshots - now 1-4 and losers of 4 straight - shoot 49% from the field but forced 21 turnovers that led to 27 points.
“The one thing I really appreciated was the defensive effort we had - the stops that we got. And they were high-energy,” Alaska head coach Alex Compton said after the game.
“You know when you play a tough team like Purefoods, you have to grind it out,” he later said.
Vic Manuel came off the bench and provided 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting, while Cyrus Baguio put up 9 points.
Star was led by Marqus Blakely, who had 22 points and 12 rebounds.
It looked like Alaska sealed the game when they went ahead 83-72 with 6:34 remaining in the fourth quarter, but a 7-0 run by Blakely and James Yap - who put up 9 points on 3-of-9 shooting - inched their team back to striking distance.
Alaska, however, maintained their lead and was ahead 88-83 with 1:14 to go. After a missed shot by Blakely, Travis received the ball in the post down the floor and nailed the turnaround jumper to put his team up 7.
Joe Devance hit a triple a few plays later to commence a late Star run, but after Alaska called time-out, Jvee Casio was left open for a baseline jumper which he converted with 19 seconds remaining.
With the score at 92-86 in favor of the Aces, the Hotshots turned to Yap who missed a 3-pointer, sealing the Hotshots' worst start to a conference this season and first 4-game losing skid in 12 conferences.
Mark Barroca finished with 17 points to aid Blakely, while Devance registered 8.
Alaska, who tied Barako Bull for the top seed in the standings, will be back in action on June 2, Tuesday, when they take on the NLEX Road Warriors.
Star, on the other hand, will look to get back on the winning track on Saturday, May 30, when they face the KIA Carnival in Angeles City, Pampanga.
ALASKA (92): Travis 27, Manuel 10, Baguio 9, Banchero 6, Thoss 6, Dela Rosa 6, Menk 6, Jazul 6, Exciminiano 5, Abueva 4, Casio 4, Hontiveros 3.
STAR (86): Blakely 22, Barroca 17, Yap 9, Pingris 8, Devance 8, Mallari 6, Maliksi 6, Reavis 4, Simon 4, Melton 2.
Quarter Scores: 21-27, 44-44, 68-68, 92-86