Cardona shines, lifts Express over Aces
MANILA, Philippines — Mac Cardona did it all for Air21 in the stretch last night and keyed a tight 91-88 win over Alaska that gave the Express at least a tie for second place in the PBA Governors’ Cup eliminations at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Cardona had a hand in the final seven Air21 points—scoring five and assisting on the other—as the Express pounced on several Alaska lapses in the endgame to carve out the win and rise to 3-1 overall.
The Aces couldn’t handle the ball in two crucial instances going into the final minute and were doomed to their second loss in four games, the first setback under the Alex Compton watch.
“I guess this one is most fulfilling because we were playing terrible both in offense and defense,” Air21 coach Franz Pumaren said. “We were able to survive it. We clawed back because this game is so important.”
Cardona finished with 14 points, all of them in the second half, and Pumaren admitted that his former standout at La Salle took—and made—some really ridiculous shots.
“He made some ridiculous shots that gave us enough cushion,” Pumaren said, referring primarily to the double-pumping running jumper to score between Cyrus Baguio and Sonny Thoss with 52.8 seconds to go that gave Air21 an 89-86 lead.
Alaska missed tying the game after that when Henry Walker and JV Casio missed a triple each. Cardona wound up with the ball to set up Aldrech Ramos on the other end for a jumper for 91-86 with 13.4 ticks left.
Dominique Sutton paced the Express with 22 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and three assists, with Asi Taulava had 15 points, 15 boards and six assists.
AIR21 91—Sutton 22, Taulava 15, Cardona 14, Borboran 11, Yeo 10, Ramos 6, Atkins 6, Villanueva 3, Poligrates 2, Camson 2, Villanueva E. 0, Jaime 0, Burtscher 0.
ALASKA 88—Casio 18, Walker 13, Espinas 12, Baguio 12, Jazul 8, Abueva 7, Thoss 6, Belasco 5, Hontiveros 5, Manuel 2, Dela Cruz 0.
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