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Alaska nips Blackwater for share of lead

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The Alaska Aces showed off their depth as they shrugged off a shaky start en route to an 87-79 victory over the Blackwater Elites held at the SM Mall of Asia Arena Friday evening.

It was a close encounter for both teams in the opening frame as the largest lead for the first 12 minutes was at three for Blackwater. There were seven deadlocks in the first quarter in a back-and-forth affair. Jerick Canada led the Elites to an early 22-20 lead thanks to his nine point effort, all coming from three-point territory.

As the two teams’ second unit were inserted into the floor, Blackwater continued its impressive first half due to a 27-point production from their bench players. Alaska made it a close encounter once again with back-to-back threes by Chris Exciminiano to slice the lead down to three. The Aces extended their run and tie the match at 39 with 2:33 left. However, Blackwater had the last rally of the half as they built a 9-2 spurt, five points of which came from the free throw area.

An energetic start to the third quarter was displayed by Alaska initiated by Calvin Abueva’s efforts underneath. Jvee Casio caught fire with two three-point bombs in the middle of the period to help the Aces hold a small advantage. Alaska won the third quarter scoring, 28-18 but the Elites kept it close, tying the game a couple of times in the last moments of the period. Dondon Hontiveros then beat the buzzer to give the Aces a three-point lead heading into the final frame.

For the entire fourth period, Alaska kept the Elites at bay as Blackwater had a hard time piling up the necessary stops to make a run. Two quick baskets by Tony Dela Cruz and Noy Baclao gave the distance at 73-66. By the 3-minute mark, Blackwater was able to slice it down to three but Alaska retained momentum, extending the lead to eight late with free throws and stops aiding their win.

For Coach Alex Compton, he admitted that their opponents won the first half and was pleased with the way his guys turned it around. “I really thought Blackwater did a great job. They clearly outplayed us in the first half,” Compton remarked. “Coach Leo Isaac is an excellent coach and they gave us problems. I felt our decision-making was poor in the first half and we were disrupted. I was glad we came out in the second half with fire.”

In addition, he mentioned that defense closed it out for another ‘tale-of-two-halves’ kind of win as he mentioned “In the second half, you could see our energy. We were hustling and scrambling. Our defense improved significantly.”

Alaska ended the game shooting 33/85 (38%) compared to the Elite’s 24/79 (30%) clip. They also outrebounded them 59-54 and had more points in the paint 44-24.

Vic Manuel, who only played in the second half, led the Aces with 13 points and seven rebounds. Banchero also had 13 and two assists. For the Elites, JP Erram topped the team with 13 points and nine rebounds while Reil Cervantes added 11 markers but had a dismal 3-for-10 shooting.

Alaska’s (2-0) next assignment will be up against the Mahindra Enforcers (0-1) on Nov 6, 7pm at Dubai. Meanwhile, Blackwater (0-1) faces Meralco (0-1) on Wednesday, 4:15 also at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The Scores:
Alaska (87) – Banchero 13, Manuel 13, Dela Cruz 11, Casio 10, Abueva 7, Dela Cruz 7, Thoss 6, Hontiveros 5, Baclao 4, Exciminiano 4, Baguio 4, Jazul 2, Magat 1, Eman 0.
Blackwater (79) – Erram 13, Cervantes 11, Canada 10, Melano 10, Cortez 9, Reyes 7, Gamalina 5, Ballesteros 4, Sena 4, Agovida 3, Golla 2, Lastimosa 1.
Quarterscores: 20-22, 41-48, 69-66, 87-79.

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