While it was a struggle for Alaska offensively, it was the total opposite on how it played defense.
Alaska used that defensive tenacity as its main weapon in beating expansion team Blackwater, 69-56, to keep its record perfect in the PBA Philippine Cup last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Former league Most Valuable Player (MVP) Eric Menk, in his second game after signing as a free agent with Alaska, had 14 points and 13 rebounds, while forward Calvin Abueva added 13 markers and 18 boards.
The 6-foot-6 Menk, 40, joined Alaska prior to the season, although he only began playing against Kia last Tuesday when Sonny Thoss was placed on the injured list because of a left foot injury.
Alaska, which improved its record to 6-0, shot just 29-of-87 (33%) from the field, but its full-court pressure forced Blackwater to 18 turnovers that was translated to 18 points.
Also, the Aces limited the Elite to only 23-of-76 (30%) shooting from the field, and they also controlled the rebounding department, 62-51.
“I thought we set the tone defensively in the first half,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton. “Our energy was high, much higher than the Kia game. I’m proud of how the guy responded.”
Alaska took control of the game early, grabbing a 17-point lead in the first half before Blackwater rallied back and trimmed the deficit to just five points twice in the final period – the last one was 44-49 with eight minutes to play.
However, the Aces used a decisive 16-3 run behind the combined effort of the hardworking Abueva, RJ Jazul, Chris Exciminiano, Jvee Casio and Vic Manuel that gave them their biggest lead, 65-47, with 2:44 to play.
In the second game, PJ Simon scored 20 points while James Yap and Joe Devance added 19 points apiece as Purefoods Star dealt new team North Luzon Expressway its third straight defeat with a 92-76 victory.