THE ALASKA Aces are not about done in the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup after negating a twice-to-win disadvantage in the quartefinals with a 108-72 victory over top seeds TNT KaTropa in the first game of their pairing on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Fresh from a playoff match on Friday to seize the eighth and final quarterfinal spot in the midseason PBA tournament, the Aces played with a sense of urgency and purpose throughout to outplay the Texters en route to forcing a rubber match on Wednesday.
The Aces got their collective attack humming to start the contest, outscoring the Texters, 17-8, in the first seven minutes.
Led by import Terrence Jones, TNT was able to recover, coming to within three points, 21-18, with 1:40 to go.
But Alaska would finish strong, going on a 6-0 blast the rest of the way to take a 27-18 lead after 12 minutes.
TNT tried to make up for lost ground to begin the second frame and was able to pull to within a point, 34-33, at the 6:54 mark as Jayson Castro started asserting himself on offense.
Chris Bachero and import Diamon Simpson though would steady the Alaska ship, helping their team to further separation of 42-33 in the next three minutes.
TNT made attempts to charge back only to find an Alaska crew firm on its footing to take a 53-41 advantage at the break.
Alaska picked up where it left as the third quarter rolled out, racing to an 11-0 run in the first five minutes to go up, 64-43.
It was a run that the milk masters would take full advantage of to continue to hold sway, 87-60, heading into the final frame.
Making matters worse for TNT, Mr. Jones was assessed a Flagrant Foul 1 after the third quarter buzzer sounded by shoving Alaska forward Carl Bryan Cruz.
With the call, the TNT import had to begin the first three minutes of the fourth quarter on the bench.
The Texters showed early fight in the final canto but they could not make significant headway.
The count was at 99-67 for Alaska midway into the quarter before the two teams started to empty their benches and rested key personnel for the next game.
Mr. Simpson and Jeron Teng top-scored for the Aces with 15 points each with the former adding 19 rebounds, four assists, four blocks and two steals.
Simon Enciso and Mr. Banchero had 14 points apiece with Vic Manuel finishing with 13.
For TNT it was Mr. Castro who led with 23 points, followed by Mr. Jones with 19 markers.
“We definitely did not see this (big win) coming. But it happens to great teams, and TNT is a great team. We prepared for a game plan that worked today and credit to the entire coaching staff,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton after their win.
“We have to prepare again for Wednesday as we know TNT would come back better,” he added. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo