by Waylon Galvez
Games February 27 (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:30 p.m. – Meralco vs Columbian
7 p.m. – Phoenix Pulse vs NorthPort
Alaska went to Jeron Teng, Carl Bryan Cruz and veteran Sonny Thoss in the crunch and the troika did not disappoint as the Alaska Aces outsteadied the Blackwater Elite, 103-101, in a tight showdown last night in the PBA Philippine Cup last night at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay City.
Teng and Cruz finished with 18 points apiece while Thoss added 16 points for the Aces who won for the second straight game after dropping their first game.
And the Aces did it with only 10 healthy players as six other members of the team are either injured or still under the weather.
Down by two points early in the fourth quarter, Thoss and Cruz joined hands with rookie Jesper Ayaay and Abel Galliguez in a 13-3 run that turned a 79-77 deficit to 90-82 lead with 6:39 to play.
Blackwater got the lead back behind Allen Maliksi and James Sena, whose pair of free throws gave the Elite a 97-94 advantage.
Alaska, however, refused to roll over and die as it took the driver’s seat back as Ping Exciminiano nailed a jumper and Cruz buried his fourth three-point basket to make it 99-97 with 1:26 to go.
A basket by Maliksi tied the count at 99-all, building up tension on both camps.
Alaska coach Alex Compton was the first heave a sigh of relief after a basket by Chris Banchero, who collected 11 points and 16 assists in nearly 33 minutes of action.
After a missed jump shot by Maliksi, Thoss sealed the deal for Alaska with a basket inside the painted area for a 103-99 lead with 34.3 seconds left.
ALASKA 103 – Teng 18, Cruz 18, Thoss 16, Exciminiano 14, Banchero 11, Ayaay 9, Pascual 8, Galliguez 7, Potts 2, Baclao 0.
BLACKWATER 101 – Maliksi 25, Sumang 18, Digregorio 14, Jose 9, Tratter 7, Belo 7, Sena 6, Cortez 6, Desiderio 4, Alolino 3, Eriobu 2, Javier 0, Banal 0.
Quarters: 29-28, 49-48, 75-72, 103-101.