PBA: Abueva returns as Alaska nips MeralcoBy Celest R. Flores
MANILA, Philippines—Head coach Luigi Trillo thought Alaska “had a bit of back luck” the last few games, especially in the end game.
But with a lot on the line deep into the conference, the Aces avoided the same mistakes down the stretch.
Alaska leaned on a stifling 8-0 run in the last two minutes to edge Meralco, 88-85, Wednesday in the 2012 PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
JVee Casio and Mac Baracael were on point from downtown just as Cyrus Baguio hit a crucial bucket to give the Aces enough cushion, 87-82, to survive with the win.
Though Alaska dominated the boards this time, its 22 turnovers—compared with Meralco’s 12—nearly cost them the game.
“We gave up 22 TOs and that’s the reason why Meralco came back,” Trillo said.
The Aces were already up by nearly double digits by halftime, but a horrendous third-quarter performance allowed the Bolts to keep in step.
It was a good thing that timely baskets, especially from Baguio, who had 19 points, bailed them out.
From a sterling 5-2 record, Alaska succumbed to a four-game slide—compounded by the absence of rooke Calvin Abueva.
“Calvin, again, was all over the place, we missed him,” said Trillo of his rookie, who had 20 points, 18 rebounds, three assists and two steals in his return.
More than Abueva’s monster statline—his plucky defense on Mark Cardona and Cliff Hodge in Meralco’s final possessions steered Alaska out of harm’s way.
Chris Ross and Mark Cardona led with 14 points each for the Bolts, who are now tied to the Aces at sixth with 6-6 record.
Meralco scored 32 points in the third quarter, and converted Alaska’s five turnovers to gold with 10 points but wasn’t able to summon the same effort in the fourth.
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