The Alaska Aces are still the team with the best standing in the league, outlasting a feisty and trigger-happy GlobalPort Batang Pier, 87-84, Saturday evening at the Xavier University gym in Cagayan de Oro.
The first quarter saw hot shooting from GlobalPort, led by sophomore guard Terrence Romeo, who had 9 points in the quarter. The usually eagle-eyed Calvin Abueva struggled to find an answer for the GlobalPort salvo, and at the end of twelve minutes, the Batang Pier led by a sizeable 22-15.
The Aces bounced back strong to start the second quarter, going on a 14-3 rally to overtake the Batang Pier, 29-25, with little under eight minutes left on the clock. GlobalPort was able to recover as another shootout ensued in the remaining period, stealing back the lead to take a 37-33 edge shortly before halftime.
The third quarter featured another heated scoring showdown that saw Alaska star Abueva and GlobalPort top gunner Romeo trade baskets and taunts, with the lead changing hands numerous times in the quarter. Powered by a late five-point explosion from RJ Jazul, the Aces eventually pulled away late in the quarter, taking a 66-60 lead to end the third.
Alaska, still fired up from the previous quarter’s rally, opened the fourth with a 9-1 run to lead by as many as 14, 75-61, early in the final quarter.
A brief period of commotion took place around the seven minute mark of the quarter, after a bottle of mineral water was allegedly thrown in the direction of the GlobalPort bench from the stands. The fans were given a stern warning from the venue’s security before the game resumed.
Powered by big baskets from veteran Alex Cabagnot and top rookie Stanley Pringle, the Batang Pier managed to come within striking distance, 84-87, approaching the final two minutes of the game. Both teams had crucial stops in the next minute, and with 35 seconds left on the clock, the score remained unchanged, and possession of the ball with GlobalPort. Despite having three of their gunners on the floor, tough defense from Alaska made shooters Cabagnot, Romeo, and Pringle unavailable for the easy look, and with the shot clock about to expire, big man Yancy de Ocampo was forced to take a rare three-point attempt, but the ball bounced from the backcourt. He managed to corral the miss for another jumper, but the ball bounced off the rim. The Aces managed to bring down the board, holding on to the ball as time expired.
Alaska’s Abueva took Player of the Game honors after scoring 19 points and bringing down 6 rebounds. The Aces improve to solo first at 7-1. GlobalPort meanwhile slides to 4-4.