Sizzling win caps worst season ever for AlaskaBy Musong R. Castillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Alaska put a close to the worst season of its Philippine Basketball Association existence in sizzling style last night.
The first year of the post-Tim Cone era ended with the Aces hammering Air21, 110-80, in the Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum after earlier missing a playoff slot for the next round.
Two coaching changes after the resignation of Cone, who guided Alaska to a grand slam in 1996, the Aces put together an 11-24 record for the year for a winning percentage of .314, which was a lot worse than the 20-29 (.408) mark the Aces compiled when they first joined the league in 1986.
Those 11 victories were also the fewest for the club since 1993 during the first year of eventual all-time great and MVP Johnny Abarrientos, when Alaska won 18 of 43 games.
“There were a lot of expectations and we are a team in transition,” coach Luigi Trillo, who took over from Joel Banal just two weeks before this conference started, said. “These are growing pains, and something we could build on.”
The Aces started strong in the first half, with Cyrus Baguio leading the charge on both ends. He wound up with 24 points behind the team high 26 of Jason Forte.
Baguio scored 17 of his total in the first two periods, 13 in the opening frame, with his four second quarter points coming off a rare four-point play as the Aces took leads of as many as 25.
The creative former Santo Tomas star in the UAAP converted all four of his triple tries in the first half where he also had three blocks.
Zach Graham, after shooting 51 points in an upset 128-121 victory over Powerade last Friday, was held to five points in the first period and was intimidated by the swarming defense put up by the Aces.
The Express broke the 51-point barrier with only under five minutes left in the third quarter after trailing by as many as 70-40 earlier in the period.
In posting the biggest winning margin by any team this season, the Aces held the Express to 35 percent field goal shooting (30 of 84 attempts). It was also Alaska’s most lopsided victory since posting a 102-72 decision of Ginebra San Miguel on Oct. 19, 2005.
Forte also went on to pluck down 12 rebounds that went with six assists, while LA Tenorio, who scored 19 points, also had 11 boards and six assists.
ALASKA 110—Forte 26, Baguio 24, Tenorio 19, Thoss 10, Cablay 9, Espinas 8, Baracael 4, Dela Cruz 4, Jazul 3, Eman 3, Thiele 0, Bugia 0, Gelig 0.
AIR21 80—Graham 25, Ritualo 11, Arboleda 9, Escobal 7, Faundo 6, Isip 6, Omolon 6, Sison 4, Menor 4, Espiritu 2, Bagatsing 0, Sena 0, Hubalde 0.
Quarters: 32-15, 56-32, 90-56, 110-80