MANILA, Philippines – Alaska recovered from a lethargic first half and fended off a late Meralco comeback to hack out an 80-72 conference-opening win in the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena on Friday, August 24.
Debuting import Mike Harris registered 23 points on top of 15 rebounds and 3 assists in the come-from-behind win that marked the Aces' first game after they traded superstar Calvin Abueva to Phoenix.
With Meralco trailing by a measly 5 points, 70-75, the 35-year-old former NBA player drilled in a triple with 21.8 seconds remaining to make it an 8-point lead for Alaska.
The Bolts trimmed their deficit to 6 following a Chris Newsome bucket, 72-78, and had the chance to narrow the gap thanks to a Harris turnover but Nico Salva muffed both of his foul shots.
Chris Banchero, who returned for the Aces after missing the entirety of their semifinals clash against San Miguel in the Commissioner's Cup, backstopped Harris with 13 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals.
Simon Enciso added 11 points and 3 assists and Vic Manuel made his presence felt with 10 points and 5 rebounds in the win.
Meralco, which has now lost back-to-back games after winning its opener, held a 40-33 lead by halftime before Alaska turned the tides and entered the final frame with the upper hand, 61-50.
The Aces outscored the Bolts, 28-10, in the 3rd quarter.
Allen Durham paced Meralco with 21 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists while Baser Amer chalked up 13 points, 10 boards and 5 assists.
Chris Newsome had 14 points and 7 rebounds in the losing effort.
Alaska 80- Harris 23, Banchero 13, Enciso 11, Manuel 10, Baclao 6, Exciminiano 5, Racal 5, Galliguez 3, Pascual 2, Teng 2, Casio 0.
Meralco 72 - Durham 21, Newsome 14, Amer 13, de Ocampo 8, Caram 6, Salva 5, Canaleta 3, Hodge 2, Hugnatan 0, Laneta 0, Tolomia 0.
Quarters: 18-22, 33-40, 61-50, 80-72.
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.