The Barako Bull Energy halted a two-game skid, escaping the struggling Alaska Aces in a classic 91-89 overtime victory, last Tuesday night at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Barako Bull opened the first quarter with a 9-2 edge, but the Aces were sparked to an 8-2 run capped by a Cyrus Baguio basket, stealing the lead with seven minutes left to play, 10-9. The following minutes of play saw an intense exchange of baskets, leading to numerous deadlocks and lead changes. Carlo Lastimosa gave the Barako Bull a five-point lead, 22-17, with two minutes left to play, after exploding for five straight points. The Aces, however, scored four straight of their own, with new import Damion James beating the buzzer with a slam. At the end of the first twelve minutes, the Energy led by a thread, 22-21.
Early in the second, the Energy were able to lead by five points once more, 26-21, after a couple of big baskets from Jake Pascual. But the Aces were able to come within a single digit difference in time, thanks to back-to-back buckets from RJ Jazul. Momentum, however, would stay with Barako Bull, who held on to the lead amid another brewing shootout in the quarter. At the half, they led 45-43.
Alaska got a taste of the lead two minutes into the third, 49-47, care of Vic Manuel. An additional back-to-back baskets from Chris Exciminiano later gave the Aces their biggest lead of the game thus far, 57-49. With momentum now on their side, the Aces outgunned the Energy to hold on to their lead, but Sol Mercado and Dave Marcelo found a way to slow the Aces down late in the quarter, collaborating to achieve a 62-all deadlock with more than two minutes left on the clock. Another jumper from Mercado gave the Energy back the lead, but RJ Jazul responded for Alaska on the other end, and in a flash, the lead was back with the Aces, 65-64. Carlo Lastimosa, however, managed to put up another basket just before the buzzer, and at the end of the period, that put the Barako Bull in the lead, 66-65.
Still hot from the previous quarter’s late rally, the Energy were able to pull away for a six point lead, 73-67, three minutes into the fourth. The following minutes of play saw Barako Bull extend their lead to as much as nine points, 83-74, with four minutes left on the clock.
Approaching the final two minutes, three free throws from Alaska’s Vic Manuel had cut the lead to a single basket, 81-83, with two and a half minutes left. Barako Bull’s Marcelo was able to extend the lead, 85-81, just they entered the last two minutes of the game. Big free throws, however, gave Alaska the chance to tie, and with 1:14 left, import Damion James nailed two more crucial free throw baskets that knotted the score at 85-all.
What was supposed to be the final minute of the game saw misses from both teams. With ten seconds left to play, Damion James had the chance to win the game for Alaska, but bricked the corner jumper. Barako Bull import Solomon Alabi managed to grab the rebound and call timeout just as the clock expired. Officials, however, had ruled that the clock had expired before Alabi signaled, ushering in an overtime period instead.
Both teams could only put up two baskets each in the first four minutes of overtime, and with just more than a minute left to play, the score was tied at 89-all. Barako Bull’s Dave Marcelo was the first to break the deadlock, sinking a basket with just more than a minute left to put the Energy up, 91-89. With 1:01 left on the clock, Alaska’s Cyrus Baguio turned the ball over, giving Barako Bull an extra possession in the tensest part of the game. In the next possession, however, it was Barako Bull RR Garcia’s turn to throw the ball away, after he was caught out of bounds. With 40 ticks left on the clock, the score was unchanged.
Two free throws from import James pushed Alaska back to the deadlock, 91-all with 25.5 ticks left to play. The next 24 seconds saw the Barako Bull import nail a gritty putback of his own missed attempt, giving the Energy the 93-91 lead with 2.5 seconds left on the clock. A dramatic 2.5 seconds followed. Barako Bull was slapped a technical for delaying the game, and Damion James bricked the following the free throw charity awarded to them. The ball found its way to Dondon Hontiveros, the Aces’ veteran sharpshooter, but Hontiveros shot ended with the ball bouncing off the rim just as the buzzer had expired.
Dave Marcelo was named Player of the Game with 18 points and 8 rebounds. He shot a remarkable five-out of six from the field. Moreover, Solomon Alabi had 23 points and 13 rebounds for Barako Bull, while Damion James led Alaska with 39 points and 11 boards.With the win, Barako Bull improves to 4-2, snapping a two-game skid. Alaska, on the other hand, slides to a 2-4 standing.
Barako Bull: Alabi 23, Marcelo 18, Mercado 15, Lastimosa 12, Intal 12, Pascual 6, Garcia 4, Lanete 3
Alaska: James 39, Manuel 13, Exciminiano 8, Jazul 8, Menk 6, Baguio 6, Hontiveros 3, Dela Rosa 2, Espinas 2, Dela Cruz 2, Casio, 2