After seven weeks of being on the sidelines due to a broken finger, Alaska Aces point guard Chris Banchero finally came back into the fold on Sunday night. But it wasn’t the kind of return he envisioned.
The Aces absorbed a sour 103-102 defeat into the hands of the now-5-1 Barangay Ginebra San Miguel that night. Alaska actually had a good look at pulling an upset, if it weren’t for the free throw woes of Banchero.
With exactly 19 ticks left to play and with Alaska up by a solitary point, 101-100, the Filipino-Italian had a chance to make it a three-point cushion through his freebies; however, he split his foul shots, lifting his team up by just two, 102-100.
From there, the Aces were doomed. Ginebra import Justin Brownlee’s three-point play conversion plus missed game-winners by Cory Jefferson and JVee Casio were enough to seal the deal for the Gin Kings.
And Banchero, who had hurt a finger in his left hand last March 22 against Blackwater, regrets the late-game blunder he had committed, as it contributed to the Aces’ three-game skid and dragged their card to 4-3.
“I kinda let it go in the end,” rued the 28-year-old Banchero, who finished with nine points on 4-of-10 shooting in 21:10 minutes, moments after the tough loss.
“I got to knock down that free throw.”
Nevertheless, Banchero’s return brings positives to the Aces, as they strive to keep their playoff hopes alive. And after Sunday night’s forgettable outing, the Seattle, Washington-born floor general vows to play better next time.
“It does feel good to be back, but I have to play better,” promised Banchero.