With a lot of hard work, Alaska made sure that it wouldn’t regret failing to land Eric Dawson.
The Aces clamped down hard on the Meralco import last night and were rewarded with an 85-81 victory that gave them a piece of the early lead in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup eliminations at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
After debuting with 37 points and 14 rebounds in a 99-92 upset of powerhouse Talk ‘N Text on Saturday, Dawson was held to a paltry 15 points and 13 boards by the Alaska defense.
The Aces then got the usual contributions from Calvin Abueva and Cyrus Baguio even as import Robert Dozier sealed his spot in the team for good with 27 points and 14 rebounds that went with a night-high six blocks.
“We had to put focus on Dawson,” said Alaska coach Luigi Trillo, who admitted chasing the former NBA D-League star. “Give credit to Sonny Thoss. What a performance he had defensively.”
Petron Blaze held San Mig Coffee to an eight-point second quarter and a 22-point first half to run away with a 98-73 victory in the second game.
Renaldo Balkman scored 28 points and had 15 rebounds and paced the Boosters to an ego-regaining victory after they had come into the contest nursing the wounds of a 94-92 loss to Globalport in the inaugurals.
The win was the first in two games for the Boosters, while the loss was the second straight for the defending champion Mixers, who finally played with import Matt Rogers but were in far worse form.
The Aces, meanwhile, took their second straight win and were actually in command practically the whole night before holding off the Bolts (1-1) in the endgame.
Rookie Vic Manuel, acquired in a trade with Globalport, paced the Bolts with 18 points.
ALASKA 85—Dozier 27, Abueva 20, Baguio 16, Casio 8, Espinas 6, Thoss 6, Dela Cruz 2, Ramos 0, Jazul 0, Eman 0, Hontiveros 0, Belasco 0.
MERALCO 81—Manuel 18, Dawson 15, Buenafe 14, Cardona 11, Ross 6, Hugnatan 5, Hodge 4, Artadi 4, Guevarra 2, Borboran 2, Timberlake 0, Reyes 0.
Quarters: 26-21, 47-39, 63-62, 85-81
PETRON 98—Balkman 28, Wahington 17, Cabagnot 15, Lassiter 9, Fajardo 8, Miranda 8, Santos 7, Tubid 4, Faundo 2, Lanete 0, Pena 0.
SAN MIG COFFEE 73—Yap 25, Rogers 20, Simon 8, Devance 7, Pingris 7, Najorda 3, Barroca 2, Mallari 1, Alvarez 0, Reavis 0, De Ocampo 0
Quarters: 20-14, 48-22, 70-49, 98-73