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PBA: Aces pound Elite

Thoss and Douthit

Games Tomorrow (Smart Araneta)
4:15 p.m. – Meralco vs Barako Bull
7 p.m. – SMB vs Rain or Shine

ANTIPOLO – A string of losses, including one in Puerto Princesa, is over for Alaska coach Alex Compton, which should be the start of renewed hopes for the downtrodden Aces.

Bogged down by three consecutive losses before the All-Star Weekend in Palawan where Compton’s South Team absorbed a 166-161 loss to Leo Austria’s North Squad in the All-Star Game, the injury-saddled Aces stirred it up just enough to turn back the Blackwater Elite, 82-68, last night at the resumption of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Ynares Sports Center.

Damion James had 29 points and 22 rebounds in 40:40 minutes while Chris Banchero added 12 and Dondon Hontiveros 9 points both coming off the bench. Starting in place of JVee Casio, who had nose surgery last Saturday, Chris Exciminiano had 10 points on 3 of 3 from the floor.

Alaska, a finalist last conference, improved to 3-5 win-loss, with only Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beer (2-6) and Blackwater (2-7) underneath in the 12-team standings heading to the playoffs.

“We played better defense,” said Compton. “There are things we worked on. But that’s not the level of basketball we’re playing last conference. Buti na lang nanalo kami, medyo maganda ang depensa. Hopefully, we’re getting better.”

Compton was probably referring to the Aces’ defensive work in their past three games compared to this game, and not so much in relation to the Elite, who shot better from the field, 36 percent to 34 percent.

The Aces did force 7 more points off turnovers, 15 to 8, but the difference in errors was actually minimal, 17-16.

Marcus Douthit, going through the motions and not overly exerting himself with the Gilas Pilipinas practices about to begin, led Blackwater with 21 points, 15 rebounds and 7 blocks, while Riego Gamalinda added 11 points along with Raphy Reyes. A naturalized player, Douthit will suit up for the Philippine team seeing action in the SEABA Championship and the Southeast Asian Games, both in Singapore.

Despite a deficit of 24-10 in points in the paint and an 11-0 disadvantage in points off turnovers, Blackwater trailed by only 41-33 at the half as Douthit accounted for 15. And with 4 minutes left in the third quarter, the Alaska lead was down to 50-45 on a Reyes basket.

It was here that the Aces finally roused themselves.

Driving layups by Calvin Abueva, who battled North teammate Terrence Romeo of Globalport for MVP honors in the All-Star Game, sparked an 8-0 run, and the Elite came no closer than 8 points from there.

ALASKA 82 – James 29, Banchero 12, Exciminiano 10, Hontiveros 9, Abueva 7, Manuel 5, Thoss 4, Espinas 3, Jazul 3, Eman 0, Baguio 0, Dela Rosa 0, Dela Cruz 0.

BLACKWATER 68 – Douthit 21, Reyes 11, Gamalinda 11, Laure 8, Heruela 5, Salvacion 5, Faundo 4, Bulawan 2, Golla 1, Erram 0, Celiz 0, Acuna 0, Ballesteros 0, Timberlake 0, Canada 0.

Quarters: 18-12, 41-33, 60-49, 82-68

Second Game:
NLEX 96 – Thornton 50, Villanueva J. 9, Taulava 8, Cardona 7, Canaleta 7, Lingganay 6, Villanueva E. 4, Arboleda H. 3, Ramos 2, Raymundo 0, Borboran 0.

GINEBRA 90 – Dunigan 23, Slaughter 21, Tenorio 20, Aguilar 10, Baracael 8, Caguioa 5, Helterbrand 3, Mamaril 0, Monfort 0, Yeo 0, Ellis 0.

Quarterscores: 9-19, 42-35, 70-68, 96-90