by Jonas Terrado
Games Wednesday (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:30 p.m. – NorthPort vs Magnolia
7 p.m. – Ginebra vs TNT KaTropa
ANTIPOLO CITY – Alaska extended its winning streak to three games after holding off Meralco, 93-89, Sunday night in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Ynares Center here.
Chris Banchero and Simon Enciso made crucial baskets as the Aces preserved the win after the Bolts pulled within a point, 88-87, on Baser Amer’s three with 1:45 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Banchero finished with 23 points, nine rebounds and four assists while Vic Manuel scored 17 points and six rebounds in his second game after dealing with back spasms and a strained calf since the start of the season.
Alaska improved to fourth place at 4-2 despite import Chris Daniels hobbled with five personal fouls and a 13-point third quarter lead almost evaporating.
“Chris Daniels got into foul trouble but I thought our locals did a great job,” said coach Alex Compton.
The result comes in handy for the Aces as they head into a tough stretch against five teams which made the Philippine Cup playoffs.
The Aces play the Phoenix Pulse Fuel Masters on Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beermen on June 21 at the Cuneta Astrodome and defending titleholder Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on June 30 at Araneta.
The last two games will be opposite Rain or Shine on July 6 at MOA and Blackwater on July 14 at the Big Dome.
Import Gani Lawal finished with 27 points and 26 rebounds but Meralco dropped to 3-3 for fifth spot.
Alaska led 68-55 in the third courtesy of two Manuel free throws but Meralco threatened on Amer’s three that made the score 88-87.
Banchero did a hesitation move in response before converting a layup and Enciso had a basket to make it 92-87 Alaska with 1:15 remaining.
Lawal scored to make it a three-point game and Meralco had a chance to tie the score after a stop but Nico Salva missed a corner three and Enciso split his two free throws to make it 93-89 with 24 ticks left.