Getting big minutes from their second unit, the Alaska Aces cruised to their third straight win and the solo lead in the Philippine Cup after a spectacular 105-64 trampling of the previously undefeated Meralco Bolts, Friday night at the Araneta Coliseum.
Vic Manuel led Alaska with 17 points and 4 rebounds. Fellow bench players Dondon Hontiveros and Chris Banchero had 16 and 11 points respectively, while Calvin Abueva, the only Alaska starter to score in double digits, had 10 points.
The Aces took a 7-0 edge early in the first quarter, denying the Bolts a single point in the first five minutes of the ballgame. Two free throw charities from Cliff Hodge with six-and-a-half left on the clock gave the Bolts their first points of the ballgame. After forcing Meralco to spotty shooting and lackluster defense for the remainder of the quarter, Alaska closed out the period with a 25-15 lead.
The second quarter saw the eagle-eyed Aces continue to pace the game, with the lead blowing up despite a feisty showing from the Meralco duo of Cliff Hodge and Sean Anthony, who put up a combined 22 first half points. The Aces would enter halftime comfortably in the driver’s seat, 54-37.
The Bolts’ scoring woes continued in the third quarter, with the Aces’ second unit led by Vic Manuel and Chris Banchero taking over to lead the charge. A trifecta from veteran shooter Dondon Hontiveros gave the Aces the twenty-point edge, 72-52, with 2:30 left on the clock. The third quarter came to a close with the Aces comfortably on top, 76-52.
The fourth quarter brought no good news for Meralco. Alaska’s fiery second unit would continue draining basket after basket, and Meralco unable to put an end to the bleeding. The final buzzer would sound off to the Aces celebrating the conference’s biggest win so far.
Cliff Hodge led the Bolts with 16 points, while Sean Anthony had 11. The Aces go up to 3-0, solo first in the conference, while the Bolts drop to 2-1. As of this writing, Alaska and the San Miguel Beermen are the only undefeated teams in the conference.