MANILA, Philippines—The last time Alaska and Petron Blaze, banned import Renaldo Balkman stole the limelight from the Aces’ win back in March 8th by strangling his teammate.
This time, the night belonged to Robert Dozier, who scored Alaska’s final 14 points as the Aces reasserted their mastery over the Boosters, 92-84, to keep the top spot in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Wednesday night.
“I think Robert Dozier is very underrated if you think about it defensively, he played Balkman, Balkman was doing well and then we had single coverage on him, then Sharpe comes in and people don’t realize that Sharpe [averaged] 29 points and 21 rebounds in China and I think he did a good job in limiting Sharpe,” Alaska head coach Luigi Trillo pointed out.
“And then you come in granted that White is out of shape but you see how Robert plays, he’s smart enough to play in front of him and play defense. He does a good job on that.”
Dozier ended up with 32 points, 16 in the fourth quarter alone, and hauled down 18 rebounds and more importantly hounded counterpart Rodney White to only two points on one-of-nine shooting.
“We didn’t have Sonny Thoss and Sonny is our best post defender and we needed to just scratch and claw and get some guys contributing.”
The Aces, who improved to 8-3, also continued to play sans starting point guard JVee Casio.
Fortunately for the injury-depleted Aces, as their coach mentioned, other guys chipped in with second round pick Raphy Reyes posting 11 points and three assists and veteran Nic Belasco scoring five points as well as RJ Jazul with five.
The Boosters, who are also battling without their key players, were led by Marcio Lassiter’s 24 points. Petron kept in step with the top team in the league and was just down three after a triple by Jay Washington, 83-86, with still 1:38 remaining.
Dozier though, just wouldn’t let the Boosters (6-4), who are now 0-3 vs the Aces this season, to fully comeback.
Dozier answered Washington’s three-pointer with a three-point play on a pick-and-roll with Baguio as Petron started to miss.