By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
The Alaska Aces raised their record in the PBA Philippine Cup to 4-3 after outlasting the Terrafirma Dyip, 99-96, in the opener on Tuesday at the Angeles University Foundation Arena in Pampanga.
Had it slow in the beginning of the match, the Aces used a more spirited attack in the second half to gain momentum that propelled them to repulse the tough challenge put by the Dyip down the stretch on their way to improving to above .500 in the ongoing Philippine Basketball Association tournament.
The loss, meanwhile, was the fifth in as many games for Terrafirma, the lone team sans a win remaining.
The Dyip got it going early on both ends of the court on their way to building a 28-19 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Alaska came out more aggressive in the second frame, managing to narrow the gap to six points several times.
But Terrafirma was firm in maintaining the lead, up, 52-45, by the halfway point of the contest.
In the third quarter, the Aces, powered by forward Robbie Herndon, were once again charging from the opening gates, going on a 14-7 run in the first three and a half minutes to level the count at 59-all.
They went on to establish a six-point lead, 65-59, midway into the quarter.
Juami Tiongson and CJ Perez stabilized the Terrafirma ship after to keep their team within striking distance of the Aces and, eventually, tied the knot at 79-all heading into the final canto.
With the outcome of the game still very much open, the teams jockeyed for early control to begin the payoff quarter.
The Aces held a three-point cushion, 91-88, by the six-minute mark.
Terrafirma then strung up five straight points in the next minute to seize the lead, 93-91.
The teams went back-and-forth after, fighting to a 96-95 count, with the Dyip up, entering the last two minutes.
A basket by JVee Casio with 1:34 to go handed the lead back to the Aces, 97-96.
Terrafirma sued for time to set up a play.
It had its chances to get back the lead but could not complete them off the timeout.
The Aces extended their lead to two points, 98-96, after Maverick Ahanmisi split his charities with 16 seconds to play.
Terrafirma once again called a timeout after.
It went to Mr. Perez to create a play but his drive to the basket did not produce anything, forcing the Dyip to foul MJ Ayaay with eight ticks left.
But Mr. Ayaay split his free throws to still open the window for the Dyip, 99-98.
Off a rebound, Terrafirma sped down the court but the desperation game-tying triple of Eric Camson failed to hit the mark, preserving the win for Alaska.
Vic Manuel led way for the Aces in the win with 18 points on top of seven rebounds.
Mr. Herndon followed suit with 12 points with Mr. Casio and Michael Digregorio adding 11 each.
Abu Tratter had a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds for Alaska, which next plays on Oct. 29 against the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters.
For Terrafirma it was Mr. Perez who showed the way with 25 points and six assists. Mr. Tiongson had 21 points.
The Dyip play on Oct. 31 versus Blackwater Elite.