Down by 22 at the start of the second half, Alaska outscored Barako by 28 in the second half to escape in a 101-95 victory to get their seventh win in nine games held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Saturday.
It was an energetic start to the match as Barako Bull went charging from the tipoff anchored by the agile Chico Lanete who score five of his team’s first 10 points against Alaska’s 5. The Energy’s zone defense also played a big part in the first quarter rally that forced Alaska’s shooters to attempt form the perimeter. Fortunately for Barako, the Aces blanked their first jumpers that led to fast offense on their end.
Energy’s good start resulted to an early double-digit lead at 15-5 wherein Alaska’s bigs had a hard time containing Liam McMorrow in the interior. It took the Aces down to the three-minute mark before hitting double digits in scoring despite getting the majority of rebounds during the first quarter. RR Garcia caught fire off the bench as he hit two triples for his team that built an early 15-point lead at the end of 12 minutes of play.
With majority of the team’s second unit inserted into the floor, Barako was able to maintain their double-digit spread in the opening minutes of the second half. Once Romeo Travis was redeployed by the Aces, Alaska was able to pull within seven point at 45-38 capped by a triple by the reinforcement. However, it was Alaska’s last positive thing to do in the first half with Barako triggered to make a new run to extend their lead.
The defense of Barako limited the Aces to five points in the second quarter’s last five minutes while they scored 17 points to build a 22-point cushion heading into halftime. During this stretch, Joseph Yeo and JC Intal combined for 11 points including two triples.
Six straight points was quickly put on by the Aces at the start of the second half but was answered by another triple by Intal. However, Alaska looked sharper on both sides on the floor at that moment and was on hold of a needed-momentum to claw their way back in the game. As Energy once again erected a 21-point gap with a little over eight minutes to play, things started to shift the way of the Aces.
The rampage started with two jumpers by Travis while Chris Banchero was also making his free throws. Then the trapping defense and the energy plays were led by Calvin Abueva that slowly took the confidence out of the Energy. By the two-minute mark of the third, Alaska was on a 24-4 spurt that suddenly sliced the lead down to a point. Barako eventually ended the quarter up by six but Alaska knew they made a ball game out of this.
Armed with momentum, the bench players continued their hot streak in the fourth quarter for the Aces. Banchero gave the Aces the lead with 8 ½ minutes to go in the game at 82-81. Alaska never looked back since. After an exchange of baskets in the next minutes, the Aces were up by four with a little over a minute to go in regulation. Unfortunately for the rattled Barako team, they settled for bad attempts from the three-point area and resorted for the lower-percentage attempts. With necessary stops and free throws to ice the game, Alaska managed to compete the turnaround and thus, win the game.
Alaska now has a 7-2 record and is tied with the San Miguel Beermen for first place on the standings. On the other hand, Barako Bull slides to solo second at 6-3.
Alaska ended up shooting 41.1% against Barako’s 37%. In addition, they had more rebounds, 59-47 and assists, 25-16.
Travis had 23 points, 14 rebounds and 5 assists to lead his squad offensive-wise. Chris Banchero added 20 including 8-of-8 from the free throw area. McMorrow led Barako with 26 markers and 15 boards.
Barako Bull will have Ginebra as its next opponent on June 17, 4:15 pm at the Smart Araneta Coliseum while Alaska’s next assignment will be up against San Miguel on Davao at June 20.
Alaska(101) – Travis 23, Banchero 20, Abueva 16, Jazul 11, Dela Rosa 9, Casio 8, Manuel 6, Baguio 4, Exciminiano 4, Thoss 0, Hontiveros 0, Baclao 0, Eman 0, Menk 0, Dela Cruz 0
Barako Bull(95) – McMorrow 26, Garcia 19, Yeo 18, Lanete 18, Intal 10, Wilson 2, Ababou 2, Hubalde 0, Chua 0, Maierhofer 0
Quarters: 17-32, 40-62, 72-78, 101-95