MANILA, Philippines – Khapri Alston made sure the PBA will remember his name after steering Columbian to a 117-110 win over Alaska at the start of the 2019 PBA Governors' Cup on Friday, September 20 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Debuting in the Philippines' premier professional league, Alston impressed with 38 points on a 12-of-19 clip to go with 22 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals as the Dyip spoiled Jeff Cariaso's head coaching debut for the Aces.
CJ Perez – fresh from his stellar showing for Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA World Cup – backstopped Alston with 28 points, 13 rebounds, and 2 steals for Columbian, which ended an eight-game skid to Alaska.
According to PBA chief statistician Fidel Mangonon, the last time the Dyip defeated the Aces, they went on to reach the playoffs for the first and only time.
Glenn Khobuntin fired 16 points, while Rashawn McCarthy and Juami Tiongson chipped in 11 points apiece and conjoined for 10 rebounds and 6 assists in the win.
Justin Watts likewise had a scintillating PBA debut with 40 points, 14 rebounds, and 4 assists, but his monster production was not enough for Alaska to open its campaign on a winning note.
It was also a double whammy for the Aces as big man Noy Baclao suffered a suspected dislodged right patella following a scary fall early in the final quarter.
Even without Baclao, Alaska slowly chiseled away at its double-digit deficit and managed to narrow the gap to 5 points with less than 30 seconds remaining off an Abu Tratter bucket, 108-113.
However, Columbian answered 3 free throws from McCarthy to secure the win.
Traded for Carl Bryan Cruz during the break, Tratter immediately made his presence felt for the Aces with 15 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 steals.
Vic Manuel and Simon Enciso had 14 and 11 points, respectively, in the loss. – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.