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Alaska Aces draw 1st blood

IT was a fourth quarter to remember for Alaska.

The Aces unleashed a furious barrage in the final period to erase a 12-point deficit and pull off a 100-91 comeback victory over San Miguel Beer, taking an important 1-0 best-of-seven series lead in the 2015-16 Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup Finals Sunday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Vic Manuel was at his very best for Alaska as he was at the forefront of the game’s most important spurt, scoring 14 of his game-high 24 points on a very efficient 10-of-15 shooting in the fourth period to tow the Aces to the scintillating comeback victory after trailing by 12 points with over 11 minutes left and nine points entering the the final period.

From a 91-all count with under two minutes left, the Aces came up with the most significant run of the contest–a 9-0 finishing kick to swiftly take the game away in the final minute-and-a-half.

Alaska’s Calvin Abueva (left) makes life difficult for a shooting SMB’s Arwind Santos in a PBA Philippine Cup Finals’ Game 1 showdown won by the Aces, 100-91.

‘’San Miguel handled us for around 40 minutes and we just happened to have guys who stepped up and made plays for us,’’ said Alaska coach Alex Compton. ‘’We were also able to string a bunch of stops as well in the fourth and that really helped us.’’

Compton, however, said there’s still a long way to go for him and his Aces.

‘’We’re up 1-0, but we still need to win three more games. We were also up last All-Filipino against San Miguel (1-0) in the finals and we lost, so we have to keep pushing and keep our focus. It’s still a long way,’’ said Compton.

Calvin Abueva was likewise effective as he produced a double-double for Alaska with his 12 points and 13 rebounds.

Manuel and Abueva both did damage coming off the bench like they normally do.

The two also got help from Cyrus Baguio and Chris Banchero, who scored 16 and 15 points, respectively.

Manuel’s lay-up with 1:46 left gave Alaska a 93-91 edge, while Jvee Casio, who struggled all night before hitting hitting his stride late in the game, connected with a triple from the left elbow with 1:12 left to give the Aces a larger 96-91 lead.

Following another stop on the other end, Chris Banchero then iced the game for Alaska as his putback with 39.8 seconds left further pushed the Aces to safety at 98-91.

Even without reigning Most Valuable Player Junemar Fajardo, who was out due to a swollen and bruised knee, San Miguel showed that it was still a force to reckon with, holding the lead for most of the first three quarters and having a 75-66 headway entering the fourth, only to fumble in the endgame.

The scores: 

ALASKA 100 – Manuel 24, Baguio 16, Banchero 15, Abueva 12, Exciminiano 6, Jazul 6, Casio 5, Hontiveros 5, Menk 5, Thoss 4, Baclao 2, Dela Rosa 0.

SAN MIGUEL 91 – Cabagnot 20, Lassiter 19, De Ocampo 18, Tubid 13, Espinas 11, Arana 4, Santos 4, Ross 2, Lutz 0, Semerad 0.

Quarters: 11-4, 42-38, 75-66, 100-91

Game Tuesday
(Game 2, Finals – Smart Araneta Coliseum):
7 p.m. – San Miguel vs. Alaska

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