Alaska unleashed a decisive run midway through the fourth period as it downed Meralco, 89-75, to inch closer at earning a spot in the quarterfinals of the season-ending PBA Governors’ Cup last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Up 71-70, the Aces used a 14-3 run with veteran guard Dondon Hontiveros scoring five points – a three-pointer and a jumper from top of the key – for an 85-73 advantage with 2:34 left to play.
Alaska import Romeo Travis scored 24 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, while guard Jvee Casio added 11 points and rookie guard Chris Banchero contributed 10 points off the bench.
The win improved Alaska’s record to 6-2, which pushed the Aces to a victory away from advancing to the next round. It also kept the team on track for a twice-to-beat advantage to be given to the top four quarterfinalists.
“Mathematically we’re not yet in” said Alaska coach Alex Compton, whose team’s remaining games are against leader Barako Bull on Saturday, San Miguel Beer on June 20 in Panabo City and Globalport on June 23.
“There’s no easy game, but I think our guys gutted it out (against Meralco),” Compton added.
It was on defense that Alaska punished Meralco, a team that averaged 44 percent from the field but was held to 33 percent (26-of-78) including 3-of-21 (14%) from three-point territory.
Meralco import Andre Emmett collected 28 points but he bled for every point as he shot 7-of-24 from the field, while ace gunner Gary David scored just 10 points on 4-of-14 from the perimeter – missing all seven attempts from the rainbow area.
Compton said the kind of defense applied on Emmet was extra-special as he knew how he played.
“Emmett was the import I tried to get three years ago when I was an assistant (coach) with Coke. I’ve watched him since his college, so I know his game. Gary… he’s one of the few local players who can go 40 (points).”
“We really talked about those guys. More than that coming into the game, I think (Meralco) coach Norman (Black) has made this team consistently one of the hardest working teams. They usually outwork their opponents.”
“But I thought our guys responded well. They’ve committed to help each other,” Compton added.
The setback evened Meralco’s record to 4-4, tying Globalport for fourth to fifth places. Only the top eight teams will advance to the quarterfinal, with the top four squads earning the twice-to-beat bonus.
ALASKA 89 – Travis 24, Casio 11, Banchero 10, Abueva 8, Hontiveros 8, Manuel 6, Thoss 6, Jazul 6, Dela Rosa 4, Exciminiano 4, Menk 2, Dela Cruz 0.
MERALCO 75 – Emmett 28, Hodge 12, Ando 11, David 10, Nabong 7, Anthony 5, Ildefonso 2, Dillinger 0, Atkins 0, Cortez 0, Hugnatan 0.
Quarters: 21-12, 42-35, 67-65, 89-75.