By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE Alaska Aces notched their first win in the PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday, beating the now-skidding Columbian Dyip, 94-72, at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Showing better footing than their debut in the season-opening Philippine Basketball Association tournament, the Aces (1-1) had a more steady attack en route to dealing the Dyip (2-4) a third straight defeat.
The Aces got it going early in the contest, albeit faced some resistance from the Dyip.
They eventually found the leverage they were angling for as the opening quarter progressed, racing to a 20-13 lead at the end of the first 12 minutes.
The two teams ground it out to start the second period, going back-and-forth to fight to a 27-16 count in the opening three minutes of the frame.
But like the first quarter, the Aces went on a higher gear, led by Chris Banchero, Jeron Teng and Carl Bryan Cruz.
Alaska held off the continued fight back by Columbian after to stay ahead, 46-36, at the half.
Rookie CJ Perez and Jackson Corpuz tried to fashion out an early run for Columbian to start the third quarter only to find little success as Alaska collectively stood their ground.
Executing a balanced attack, the Aces built on their cushion, stretching their lead to 21 points, 68-47, in the dying seconds of the third.
A late triple by Mr. Jackson trimmed Columbian’s deficit to 18 points, 68-50, heading into the fourth quarter.
Sensing that they got the Dyip on the ropes, the Aces went for the early closeout at the start of the payoff quarter.
They opened things with a 7-3 run to stretch their lead to 22 points, 75-53, with just a minute lapsing.
Alaska’s lead was at 30 points, 89-59, by the four-minute mark and from there it cruised to the victory.
Mr. Cruz led the Aces with 20 points to go along with nine boards.
Jake Pascual had 13 points while Ping Exciminiano and Chris Banchero had 12 and 10 points, respectively, for Alaska, which continued to play sans Vic Manuel, Simon Enciso, JVee Casio and Kevin Racal because of injuries.
Columbian, meanwhile, was paced by Mr. Perez’s 15 and Mr. Corpuz’s 12 points.
“I’m proud of our defense which won it for us. We had two days to prepare after the beating we got from Rain or Shine [last time around]. And I really appreciate the effort that my guys put up,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton after their win.
Alaska next plays on Feb. 13 against the Blackwater Elite while Columbian returns on Feb. 27 against the Meralco Bolts.