The Alaska Aces are 4-0, after emerging as the victor of a thrilling 66-63 showdown with the previously undefeated San Miguel Beermen, Wednesday night at the Araneta Coliseum.
Alaska had trailed for most of the game, struggling to find the easy shot against the Beermen’s crushing defense, but managed to steal the lead late in the fourth quarter.
The Aces entered the game on a high note, scoring seven straight points to take a 7-0 start, but San Miguel’s Chris Lutz would lead the charge for the Beermen, bagging seven points to force an 11-all deadlock. A lay-up from Ronald Tubid gave San Miguel a taste of the lead, 13-11. Following a trade of baskets in the remainder of the quarter, the score would rest at 19-all, at the end of the period.
The second quarter saw the Beermen go all out defensively, denying the usually eagle-eyed Aces the easy look. The Aces were held to a mere three points in the first six minutes of the period, and the Beermen would go on to capitalize on the Aces’ shooting woes, pulling away for a 38-30 edge by halftime.
Alaska would return to the court in excellent form, finally powering through San Miguel’s defense to slowly but effectively trim the Beermen’s lead. A triple from Jvee Casio gave Alaska their first taste of the lead since the first quarter, 44-43, with four minutes on the clock. Following a highly physical trade of baskets, the Beermen would manage to pull through and steal back the lead before the end of the quarter, 52-50.
The Beermen would pace the game for most of the quarter, once again going all out defensively, but the Aces would remain just a step behind and never letting San Miguel build up another major rally. A four-point conversion that saw Alaska set up Cyrus Baguio for a three-pointer, after corralling the missed free throw from a split charity by Calvin Abueva, gave the Aces the means to come within striking distance, 60-61, with a minute and a half left on the clock. The Beermen would regain the lead, 63-62, with less than a minute left on the clock, but Jvee Casio stole back the lead for Alaska, 64-63, with 32.6 on the clock, after a breakway jumper.
The Aces would force a San Miguel turnover, after forcing Chris Lutz to an errant drive on the basket, with 22.4 left. Casio, the former De La Salle University standout, would sink two free throws with 17.9 left on the clock to put Alaska up by three, 66-63. In the following play, Solomon Mercado would manage to throw up a triple in attempt to force a deadlock, but the ball would bounce from the rim. Calvin Abueva would draw the foul after grabbing the missed basket, but would later miss both free throw charities. With 7.9 left on the clock, gunner Marcio Lassiter would manage to fling one to tie, but the ball once again would bounce of the rim.
Jvee Casio, Alaska’s late game hero, was give Player of the Game honors. He had 11 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal to his name. Cyrus Baguio led the Alaska scoring with 13 points. The ‘MVP Connection’ of Arwind Santos and June Mar Fajardo meanwhile paced the Beermen, Santos finishing 14 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 blocks, while Fajardo had 10 points, 14 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Alaska currently sit at the top of the standings at 4-0, while the Beermen slide to 3-1.
photos courtesy of Nuki Sabio