By JONAS TERRADO
Games Today (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:30 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs TNT KaTropa
6:45 p.m. – San Miguel vs Magnolia
Alaska’s trademark pressing defense worked to near-perfection right from the onset yesterday and rolled past Phoenix, 114-91, to clinch a twice-to-beat advantage in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome.
The Aces scored 11 points off seven turnovers in the first quarter to take a 34-17 lead and showed no let-up the rest of the way to finish the elimination round with an 8-3 record in the contest that saw the returns of import Diamon Simpson and rookie Jeron Teng.
“I like our energy going into the playoffs,” Compton said after the Aces absorbed back-to-back double-digit defeats to Meralco and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
Simpson had 18 points, 19 rebounds, five assists and for blocks after being recalled by Alaska after an eight-year hiatus when Antonio Campbell left to play for the Orlando Magic in the NBA Summer League.
Teng, who was out for a month due to stab wounds sustained in a brawl with two suspects in Bonifacio Global City, played 18 minutes and finished with seven points and two rebounds.
Vic Manuel had his 10th straight 20-point game after scoring a game-high 28 as the Aces joined the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters as the two teams carrying the incentive in the quarterfinal phase of the midseason tournament.
Alaska’s triumph also gave Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, Magnolia and GlobalPort a free ride to the quarters, thus completing the eight-team cast.
Ginebra and GlobalPort were playing at presstime looking to break their tie at 5-5 while Magnolia has an identical record.
Eugene Phelps produced 23 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and four blocks but Phoenix bowed out of the playoff race by ending its campaign tied for ninth with Columbian at 4-7.
Meantime, TNT KaTropa battles Rain or Shine while Magnolia collides with San Miguel in today’s Petron Saturday Special matches.
ALASKA 114 – Manuel 28, Simpson 18, Banchero 14, Exciminiano 12, Enciso 10, Thoss 7, Teng 7, Baclao 4, Casio 4, Racal 3, R. Pascual 3, J. Pascual 3, Galliguez 1, Cruz 0.
PHOENIX 91 – Phelps 23, Wright 13, Revilla 10, Perkins 10, Jazul 8, Intal 6, Eriobu 6, Guevarra 4, Dehesa 4, Mendoza 3, W. Wilson 3, Chua 1, Kramer 0, Gamboa 0.
Quarters: 34-17; 53-42; 80-63; 114-91.