All that Alaska Aces needed to improve their chances of making it into the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup playoffs was to win over defending four-time conference champions – and known past tormentors – San Miguel Beermen on Sunday.
Unfortunately, they failed.
The Milkmen could not sustain their lead from early in the match, as the Beermen showed their wares and played like the champs that they are in the second half, to walk away from SMART Araneta Coliseum with a 114-96 win.
“I like how we did in the first half, but it’s hard to sustain against them,” lamented Aces head coach Alex Compton.
Alaska actually had things going in their way at the beginning. Reigning five-time league MVP June Mar Fajardo and sharpshooter Marcio Lassiter were non-factors in the match; the latter even had four personal fouls in the first half alone.
The trio led San Miguel’s fourth quarter pull-away. Santos and Pessumal connived for the early onslaught, as Standhardinger – who returned after a five-game absence due to a knee injury – applied the finishing touches.
Standhardinger finished with 23 points and seven rebounds, while Santos made 17 points and nine boards and added a game-high four blocked shots. Pessumal chimed in 14 markers, three caroms, and three steals.
“Then sa second half, they just exploded. And you saw why they’ve won – is it four straight All-Filipinos? Something like that. Basta marami. It’s tough. They’re good,” the outspoken Compton conceded.
“They’re just really good!”
The loss isn’t the end of the road yet for Alaska, who fell to 4-6 to tie NLEX Road Warriors. They still have the NorthPort Batang Pier this Wednesday, and a win will boost their chances of making it into the quarters.
But Compton doesn’t want to get too far ahead. The head coach remains wary of the Batang Pier, who are coming off a big 109-83 victory over TNT KaTropa also Sunday, which snapped their six-game skid and halted the latter’s five-game winning streak.
“Yeah, we play NorthPort, who… I don’t know if you watched their game today, but they were pretty gosh darned good. And their record is so deceiving,” said Compton.
“Coach Pido [Jarencio] has done a really good job coaching.”
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