By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
GOT into the win column of the ongoing best-of-seven Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup finals series last time around, the Alaska Aces look to build on it as their championship matchup with the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok moves along.
A big 100-71 winner in Game Three on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, the Aces arrested their skid that saw them bowing in the first two games of the finals of the season-ending PBA tournament.
Alaska was in its element throughout the contest, shedding the struggles, particularly on the defensive end, that marked its first two outings.
It is a performance that Aces coach Alex Compton hopes to use as a blueprint against the Hotshots for the remainder of the series.
“The overall story of the game was that we made a bunch of shots in the first three quarters. We didn’t commit many turnovers and we played defense with great intensity,” said Mr. Compton following their breakthrough victory.
In Game Three, Alaska used a strong effort in the middle quarters to pull away and cut the Hotshots’ series lead.
Magnolia took early command of the match, holding a 22-16 lead by the end of the first quarter.
After that, however, Alaska would cascade down on the Hotshots big time, outscoring the latter, 67-28, in the next two quarters to carry a commanding 83-50 lead heading into the final frame.
With the game pretty much settled, the Aces spent the rest of the fourth quarter holding down any attempt by the Hotshots to rally back, something they would have success in as they cruised to the victory.
Import Mike Harris led the way for Alaska in the victory with 36 points and 18 rebounds.
Vic Manuel and Carl Bryan Cruz came off the bench to chip in 14 and 10 points, respectively, while Simon Enciso had 12 markers.
Despite winning huge in their last game, Mr. Compton downplayed it and underscored the need for them to continue taking on the challenge of the tough Magnolia squad.
“If I were to choose between winning with this score and being up 2-1, of course I’d choose being 2-1 up. I’m glad that we won, but we’re still down at this point,” said Mr. Compton, who is looking to notch his first PBA title with the team.
He went on to say that they are expecting the Hotshots to make the necessary adjustments for Game Four, and the game itself anything like that in Game Three.
The ongoing finals series between Magnolia and Alaska marks the first time that the teams are meeting in the championship since the 2009-10 Philippine Cup finals where Magnolia, then playing under Purefoods, swept Alaska, 4-0.
Alaska is seeking its first title since the 2013 Commissioner’s Cup while Magnolia is gunning to win it all since the 2014 Governors’ Cup that completed for the team a rare league grand slam.
Game Four of the finals is on Wednesday.
By Michael Angelo S. Murillo