MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED) The Alaska Aces came through with a tremendous defensive effort to overcome Rain or Shine in Game 5, 86-78, and lived to fight another day in the 2016 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Calvin Abueva came through with big plays on both ends of the ball in the final period and finished with a game-high 20 points to go along with 13 rebounds, lifting the Aces to their second straight win after losing the first three games.
Alaska has now cut the deficit in the best-of-seven series to just one game, 3-2, and can force a deciding Game 7 if they win once more on Wednesday’s Game 6 at the Araneta Coliseum.
“It was another proud game for my guys,” Alaska head coach Alex Compton said after the game. “It still doesn’t change my opinion of Rain or Shine as the best offensive team in the league, but it makes me really proud of my guys, the way they played defense.”
After giving up an average of 105.25 points in the first four games of the series, Alaska limited the Elasto Painters to their lowest scoring output in the past four conferences. Rain or Shine shot only 43% from the field, including only 20% from beyond the arc.
Rain or Shine carried a slim 57-56 advantage heading into the final frame, but a sterling stretch from Dondon Hontiveros that saw him block Jericho Cruz on one end before draining a triple on the break allowed Alaska to take a 59-56 advantage.
It was a back-and-forth contest from that point though Alaska managed to maintain their lead, until Paul Lee connected on a long three-pointer with 6:35 left that tied the game for the last time at 69-all.
Hontiveros again came up with a huge play, scoring a lay-up while also drawing the fifth foul of ROS import Pierre Henderson-Niles. He completed the three-point play to give Alaska the lead for good, 72-69, and Abueva made it 74-69 with 4:47 to go through a high-arcing lay-up over the outstretched arms of Beau Belga.
A jumper by JR Quinahan and another lay-up by Lee made it a three-point game, 73-76, with still 3:17 to go, but Alaska padded their lead through free throws from RJ Jazul and a reverse lay-up by Rob Dozier.
The Elasto Painters last threatened when Quinahan connected on a three-pointer that made it 76-80 with over two minutes left, but Abueva converted back-to-back baskets, each time thanks to smart passes from Jazul, to wrap up the victory for the Aces.
“We talked about what we need to do, and we have got to defend,” said Compton. “We talked about how they’re gonna come out a lot tougher, they’re gonna pressure us, so we gotta be strong.”
“In the last two games, we kind of look like a different team from the first three games,” he added. “The last two games were more of the team that I know. I just want us to play that way. Makes me proud when we play that way.”
Aside from Abueva, four other players scored in double-digits for the Aces with Dozier adding 14 points, Jazul scoring 13, Hontiveros going for 12, and Cyrus Baguio scoring 11 markers. The Aces, as a team, converted 41% of their shots and made 23 of their 27 free throws.
Jeff Chan led Rain or Shine with 17 points, 13 of which came in the first half. Lee was the only other Elasto Painter in double-digits, finishing with 16 markers.
ALASKA 86 – Abueva 20, Dozier 14, Jazul 13, Hontiveros 12, Baguio 11, Banchero 6, Racal 5, Baclao 2, Thoss 2, Dela Rosa 1.
RAIN OR SHINE 78 – Chan 17, Lee 16, Quinahan 9, Cruz 8, Ponferada 8, Henderson Niles 6, Norwood 5, Belga 4, Almazan 2, Ibanes 2, Ahanmisi 1, Tiu 0.
Quarters: 15-19, 37-40, 56-57, 86-78
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