Tied after three quarters in a closely-contested affair, Alaska outscored Star by six points in the final frame to push them for another win in a 92-86 score held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Hotshots came out sizzling with their perimeter shooting as their starters did the opening damage from the outside. James Yap and Marc Barroca made four straight jumpers during the initial run of their squad that easily gave them a 14-8 edge. On the other hand, Alaska had a tough time making successive attempts to fall as they were haunted by early turnovers that favored Star.
The back-and-forth exchange between the two teams occurred late in the period as the team’s bench players kept on firing in more points. The Hotshots eventually ended the opening frame up by six with seven players already entering the scoring column.
Vic Manuel and RJ Jazul of Alaska started the second quarter, making their long-ranged jumpers to trim the deficit down to a single possession. However, an 8-2 counter made by Star on three made shots off assists propelled them to build distance anew. Despite their top defensive anchor Marquis Blakely resting on the bench, the locals stepped up defensively and used good ball movement during the stretch.
From the low block, Pingris sank a bucket that made it 37-30 in favor of his team. However, Alaska rallied late with Romeo Travis re-entering the game as he initiated a 14-7 scoring run to tie the game before heading into the locker rooms. By the half, the Hotshots were shooting close to 52% compared to Alaska’s 43%.
Alaska opened up the second half on a 5-0 blitz with Cyrus Baguio knocking down a triple. The tied game continued the back-and-forth exchange between the two teams as no squad led by more than three points. Jumpers by Romeo Travis were responded by the bigs of the Hotshots hitting their shots. Alaska and Star both had 24 points on the closely-contested third frame and still was tied heading into the payoff period.
Star Hotshots seemed to be the first team to blink as Alaska jumped on them as they erected an 11-point cushion at 83-72 halfway through the fourth. During the stretch, Chris Banchero and Dondon Hontiveros buried long-ranged baskets to pull away from their opponent. However, the gritty Hotshots used a fast 7-0 run including three-point plays from James Yap and Marquis Blakely to make things interesting.
In addition, Barroca and Yap settled in a trapping defense that led to Blakely finishing a layup on the break to make it 86-81 still in favor of the Aces with three minutes to play. However in their next possessions, Mark Pingris and Blakely muffed their attempts down low that favored the Aces. Despite Barroca making a late triple, JVee Casio countered big time with his own shot from long-range that served as a dagger to win the game.
Travis ended up scoring 27 points, grabbed 14 boards, 7 assists, 5 steals and a block. Blakely tallied 22 points while also knocking down 10 out of 12 from the foul stripe.
Star Hotshots will next face Kia, 5pm at Angeles, Pampanga while Alaska’s next assignment will be up against NLEX on June 2 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Alaska(92) – Travis 27, Manuel 10, Baguio 9, Thoss 6, Dela Rosa 6, Menk 6, Jazul 6, Exciminiano 5, Abueva 4, Casio 4, Hontiveros 3
Star Hotshots(86) – Blakely 22, Barroca 17, Yap 9, Pingris 8, Devance 8, Mallari 6, Maliksi 6, Reavis 4, Simon 4, Melton 2
Quarters: 27-21, 44-44, 68-68, 92-86