Powered by import Damion James’ 29 points and 22 rebounds, the Alaska Aces put an end to another losing streak with an 82-68 victory over the feisty Blackwater Elite, Wednesday evening at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
The first half opened to a sweet-shooting Alaska squad taking an early lead amid a spirited performance by the expansion team. Powered by import Damion James, the Aces took a 12-6 edge halfway through the quarter, and would only outgun the Elite in the remainder of the quarter. At the end of twelve minutes of action, the Aces led 18-12.
Despite a spirited performance from Marcus Douthit, who kept Blackwater within the range for most of the early second quarter, it was the Aces who stayed ahead of the chase, getting much needed help from the explosive Calvin Abueva. Blackwater import, Douthit put the Elite within four, 18-22, around halfway through the quarter, but the Aces responded with a 6-0 rally that gave them the first double-digit lead of the game, 28-18. With their big men putting up a dominant inside performance, the Aces would score by as many as thirteen, 34-21, in the next few minutes of play. At the half, the Aces led 41-33.
The Aces may have led with thirteen points early in the third quarter, but the combined efforts of Douthit and Eddie Laure powered the Elite in trimming the lead to five, 45-50, past the halfway point of the quarter. However, Calvin Abueva and Chris Banchero responded to the brewing Blackwater rally by kicking off an 8-0 rally that pushed the lead back to thirteen, 58-45. With the fire put out, the Aces ended the third quarter leading by double digits once more, 60-49.
The final quarter showed no change of complexion in the game, with the Aces keeping their double-digit lead intact by sinking one basket for every bucket drained by the Elite. A jumper from the import James with three minutes left to play gave Alaska their biggest lead thus far, 78-62. A three-point play approaching the final two-minute mark gave the Aces an 81-62 lead. Alaska needed only to sink the free throws that came their way off Blackwater’s fouling to ice the day’s win.
Import James took home Player of the Game honors for his 29-point, 22-rebound explosion. The Aces improve to 3-5, tightening their hold on the no.10 spot. Blackwater meanwhile slides to a dismal 2-7.
Alaska (82) – James 29, Banchero 12, Exciminiano 10, Hontiveros 9, Abueva 7, Manuel 5, Thoss 4, Espinas 3, Jazul 3, Eman 0, Baguio 0, Dela Cruz 0.
Blackwater (68) – Douthit 21, Reyes 11, Gamalinda 11, Laure 8, Heruela 5, Salvacion 5, Faundo 4, Bulawan 2, Golla 1, Erram 0, Celiz 0, Acuña 0.
Quarters: 18-12, 41-33, 60-49, 82-68
Photo by Nuki Sabio