Rob Dozier played for Alaska for the first time in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup, and the Aces scored crucial baskets towards the end to beat NLEX, 104-98, Friday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum to stay in the hunt for a twice-to-beat incentive.
Alaska led by as much as 20 in the first quarter, but had to fend off a gallant fightback from the Road Warriors to seal the win and wind up with a 7-4 record overall. NLEX dropped to 5-6 and shall enter the quarter-finals as the seventh seed.
RJ Jazul knocked down back-to-back triples in the final three minutes, while Calvin Abueva scored a put-back to hand Alaska a 98-96 cushion.
Cyrus Baguio then converted on a fast break situation off an NLEX miss to push the lead to 100-96. Coming off a timeout, Jazul then stole the ball from Sean Anthony and finished with a lay-up to make it 102-96 with only over 13 seconds left.
“The first quarter was great but I thought they played a better job on the defensive end in the second half and we were too individualistic,” Alaska head coach Alex Compton said.
“They were able to make some good adjustments, come out and execute, and exposed our poor rotations but we kept coming back. I don’t know how many stops we got in the end but that was huge in the end.”
Abueva top-scored with 23 points on 9-for-14 shooting and added eight rebounds. Sonny Thoss contributed 19 points and eight boards, while Jazul added 18 points including 10 in the fourth quarter.
Dozier had 14 points and 13 boards in his first game for the Aces. The team replaced Shane Edwards, who was 6-3 in nine games.
Alaska can get a play-off game for second spot against TNT if the Tropa defeat San Miguel in the final elimination round game.
If the Beermen beat TNT, they will take the last twice-to-beat incentive, while both Alaska and TNT shall be in the best-of-three quarter-final brackets.
Thornton led NLEX with 37 points, while Anthony chipped in 24 points on 8-for-11 shooting.
Alaska (104) – Abueva 23, Thoss 19, Jazul 18, Dozier 14, Manuel 12, Baguio 7, Banchero 3, Eximiniano 3, Hontiveros 3, Dela Rosa 2, Dela Cruz 0, Menk 0.
NLEX (98) – Thornton 37, Anthony 24, Taulava 11, Enciso 9, Villanueva 7, Lanete 6, Borboran 2, Reyes 2, Alas 0,Arboleda 0, Cardona 0, E. Villanueva 0, Khobuntin 0, Camson 0.
Quarterscores: 34-14, 51-45, 76-74, 104-98.