LaDontae Henton and JVee Casio conspired in the end-game to help the Alaska Aces repel an upset-hungry Kia Picanto, 102-94, to earn their third victory in a row, Sunday night at a packed SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
The Aces have now improved to 3-6, while the Picanto absorbed their ninth straight loss.
“I’m glad to win,” said Alaska head coach Alex Compton. “And I just wanna say first, that Chris Gavina is doing a great job. It’s tough to come off of a loss they had in the situation that they are in and get your guys to play.
“Chris squeezed so much out of his guys today, they really played. Credit to them, we had a lot of bounces that went our way, we made a couple of shots, but they were playing great,” he furthered, greatly tipping his hat to Gavina.
Calvin Abueva top-billed the Aces with 26 points and 15 rebounds. Henton also had a double-double of his own with 20 points and 13 rebounds to go with seven assists, while Casio had 20 markers and seven dimes as well.
With the game tied at 94 with 1:26 left in the final frame after Kia import Geron Johnson’s triple went in, Henton pulled up from the wing and made a trifecta of his own to give the advantage to the Aces, 97-94, with 1:05 to go.
The Picanto had an opportunity to respond on the other end, but a costly turnover by LA Revilla — an overcooked pass to Johnson that went out of bounds — with 55.4 seconds left spelled the beginning of the end for the team in red.
Alaska then took advantage after regaining possession. Casio attacked Kia’s defense, pulled up for a short jumper, and made it to make it a two-possession game, 99-94, with less than 37 seconds left on the clock.
Kia was then left behind afterwards, as they failed to convert any basket. Split freebies by Casio and Henton, respectively, in the game’s final seconds locked the much-needed victory for the Milkmen.
Chris Exciminiano, who anchored Alaska’s fourth quarter fightback from 10 points down, supplied 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting. Fellow guard Chris Banchero scored 11 and added five rebounds.
The loss puts in vain Johnson’s effort of 39 points spiked by seven treys alongside nine rebounds and seven assists. He however had eight of his team’s 18 turnovers. Philip Paniamogan produced 12 markers.
The Aces shot 47 percent from the floor, racking up 29 assists in the process. However, they had 25 turnovers, which led to 20 points for the Picanto. The bench play though showed a huge disparity, 55-17, in favor of Alaska.
Alaska will look to sustain their run versus Meralco on Friday, September 15, 4:15 PM still at the Big Dome, while Kia will aim to end their slump against San Miguel on Saturday, September 16, 3:00 PM at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Alaska 102 – Abueva 26, Henton 20, Casio 20, Exciminiano 14, Banchero 11, Thoss 4, Racal 3, Baclao 2, Cruz 2, Mendoza 0, Magat 0, Pascual 0, Galliguez 0, Enciso 0.
Kia 94 – Johnson 39, Paniamogan 12, Elorde 11, Yee 11, Khobuntin 10, Ballesteros 4, Celda 3, Jaime 2, Corpuz 2, Revilla 0, Camson 0, Salva 0.
Quarterscores: 23-27, 46-51, 67-77, 102-94.