Ranged against an overmatched opponent with little clue at what was getting thrown at them, the Aces took full advantage, blasting the Blackwater Elite, 106-80, at the start of the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Without availing of an Asian import the way other teams did, the Aces raced to a 26-17 edge in the first quarter, widened it to 55-41 at the half, and blew it all apart with 4:51 left in the third after backup center Sam Eman sank a short jumper to give Alaska a 102-72 advantage.
They raised it a notch further in the final two minutes on a Rome dela Rosa jumper that made it a 32-point bulge but not after putting up a gallant stand over a three-minute span as Blackwater spiritedly flailed away at a 30-point deficit.
“A good start to assert themselves defensively,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton, dismissing suggestions that the Aces hardly broke a sweat. “We did a good job sustaining a solid start.”
Alaska import Romeo Travis, a high school teammate of Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James at St. Vincent-St Mary in Akron, Ohio, debuted with 18 points and 12 rebounds in 28:27 minutes, average numbers that nonetheless made an impression on the man who matters most.
“No surprises,” said Compton. “He’s solid, a smart defender and a good team player. He’s not one of those guys who’ll wow the crowd with 50-point games and step-back 3s, but he makes the right decisions and that’s a very valuable trait.”
The Aces put the game away in the first half as the Alaska bench outscored its Elite counterpart, 27-6, in opening a 55-41 lead. There were four deadlocks and five lead changes before a Jayvee Casio 3-point shot made it 16-15.
Casio had 10 points at the half despite wearing a protective mask to shield his surgically-repaired nose which was broken last conference after getting accidentally hit Kia’s LA Revilla.
Blackwater had the veteran Marcus Douthit for an import and the naturalized Gilas Pilipinas center had 16 in the first quarters. But the Aces had little problem running their motion offense against the Elite’s scattered defense and steadily build a margin too insurmountable to overcome.
Douthit finished with 28 points and 16 rebounds, playing almost without relief. No other Elite had more than 10 points however.
Meanwhile, two-time Best Import Arizona Reid returns for San Miguel and five other reinforcements are looking to make good first impressions today at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Reid and SMB take on Manny Pacquiao’s Kia Carnival at 7 p.m., while Barako Bull, fresh from a trade that sent point guard Sol Mercado to Barangay Ginebra San Miguel for Joseph Yeo, meet NLEX in the curtainraiser at 4:15 p.m.
PH Ramos, Kia’s 7-foot-4 gentle giant in the Commissioner’s Cup, is no longer around, opting to play in his hometown of Puerto Rico, and the Carnival have brought in Taiwanese Jet Chang (Chang Tsung-Hsien) and 7-foot Senegalese Hamady N’Diyae, who went up against Gilas Pilipinas and Andray Blatche during the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain last year.
Barako Bull, on the other hand, is parading 6-foot-10 Canadian Liam Paul McMorrow, while Syrian guard Micheal Madaly and 6-foot-7 forward Kwame Alexander, a quick replacement for original choice Rob Jones, will suit up for NLEX.
ALASKA 106 – Travis 18, Casio 13, Banchero 13, Baguio 12, Abueva 9, Jazul 7, Manuel 6, Dela Rosa 6, Exciminiano 6, Menk 6, Thoss 4, Baclao 2, Hontiveros 2, Eman 2, Dela Cruz 0.
BLACKWATER 80 – Douthit 28, Gamalinda 10, Salvacion 9, Cervantes 7, Bulawan 5, Timberlake 4, Reyes 4, Erram 4, Heruela 4, Acuna 3, Faundo 2, Celiz 0, Laure 0.
Quarters: 26-17, 55-41, 85-58, 106-80
GLOBALPORT 92 – Romeo 27, Krayem 18, O’Bryant 15, Buenafe 10, Jensen 10, Miranda 5, Isip 4, Taha 3, Mamaril 0, Ponferada 0, Kramer 0.
MERALCO 73 – Emmett 41, Hugnatan 7, Wilson 5, David 5, Hodge 4, Ferriols 4, Cortez 3, Anthony 2, Sena 2, Ildefonso 0, Caram 0, Guevarra 0, Macapagal 0.
Quarters: 21-19, 45-34, 69-57, 92-73