No relief for slumping Alaska Aces
The franchise-worst slump by Alaska continued even as Star and defending champion Barangay Ginebra pulled off inspiring wins on the second week of eliminations of the PBA’s season-ending Governors’ Cup.
With RR Pogoy flashing the three-point shooting that earned him a spot in the Gilas Pilipinas roster this year and Jayson Castro and Ranidel de Ocampo connecting in the clutch, the TNT KaTropa hacked out a 107-106 decision over the Aces, who led by 14 points early in the third quarter.
It was the fourth straight setback in the tournament—and the 12th consecutive loss—for the Aces since going 4-0 last April in the Commissioner’s Cup where they missed the playoffs after placing second to Rain or Shine in the same event last year.
Now the league’s winningest club with 14 titles, behind San Miguel Beer’s 24, must win six of its seven remaining games to salvage a place among the last four of the top eight teams that will advance to the quarterfinal playoffs.
The Star Hotshots took advantage of the injury that sidelined three-time MVP June Mar Fajardo to down the Grand Slam-seeking Beermen, 104-98, and temporarily tie the idle Meralco Bolts with their third straight victory. The Bolts regained the solo lead at 4-0 on Sunday night after a 112-97 win over the Kia Picanto.
And the Barangay Ginebra Kings boosted their stock no end after a losing start against the Bolts by blasting the hitherto unbeaten NLEX Road Warriors, 110-97, in a road game in Calasiao, Pangasinan, on Saturday.
The Road Warriors, who owned wins over the Aces and the Elasto Painters in an unprecedented 4-0 takeoff in a tournament for the first time, found the Gin Kings too tough in the final half where they trailed by as many as 20 points.
NLEX is now running third at 4-1, followed by Ginebra (3-1) and SMB and TNT at 2-1 even as the teams brace for a wild race in the next two weeks with the league’s top stars suiting up for Gilas Pilipinas in the Fiba Asia Cup set Aug. 8 to 20 in Lebanon.
Despite the slight tear in his right calf muscle that will sideline him for two weeks, Fajardo was allowed to join the Nationals who left yesterday with now scant hopes to succeed. The other Gilas bets are Pogoy and Castro of TNT, Raymond Almazan and Gabe Norwood of Rain or Shine, Calvin Abueva and Carl Byan Cruz of Alaska, Jio Jalalon of Star, Matthew Wright of Phoenix, Terrence Romeo of GlobalPort and Japeth Aguilar of Ginebra.
With the 6-10 Fajardo likely to sit out the Gilas’ campaign, new recruit 6-8 Fil-German Chris Standhardinger will be the main man in the middle for coach Chot Reyes.
Earlier tapped to replace naturalized player Andray Blatche who opted not to go to Lebanon, Standhardinger will also reinforce another Gilas team that will defend the Southeast Asian Games title in Kuala Lumpur also this month.
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