Casio stars as Aces take solo lead at Beermen’s expense
With the game’s first 47 minutes all but naught, the Alaska Aces owned the final minute and upended the San Miguel Beermen, 63-66, to remain as the league’s only unbeaten team in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum Wednesday evening.
Diminutive guard JVee Casio had ice water running through his veins as he took leadership of the Alaska ship to weather the storm that the Beermen’s two Most Valuable Players brought.
With his team down 63-62 with less than a minute remaining, Casio knocked down a jumper from the right elbow with 2013 MVP Arwind Santos flying by him to put Alaska up 64-63, at the 58.9-second mark.
Casio then calmly drained two pressure-packed free-throws with 17.9 seconds left that sealed their unblemished 4-0 win-loss record and deal San Miguel’s first loss at 3-1.
“It was a special game,” Alsaka head coach Alex Compton said. “Our guys were great, they have the character to win against a great team that I expect to be successful and could win championships.”
Compton added that he had a sleepless night just thinking on how to stop 2014 MVP June Mar Fajardo in the paint.
“June Mar kept me up last night, ‘how do we stop this guy?’” Compton queried.
In a low-scoring affair, both teams shot at 29 percent with Alaska’s 66 points the lowest winning score in franchise history.
“Keeping them to 63 points is very impressive defense,” Compton said. “But we could not score on them either, 66 points is terrible offense, they shut us down.”
San Miguel had the chance to take a one-point lead when Casio hit the elbow jumper but former Beerman Dondon Hontiveros and Calvin Abueva denied Chris Lutz’ layup attempt.
A couple more chances shone for the Beermen but their offense just lost its luster with Solomon Mercado’s game-tying attempt clanking off the rim with 13 seconds on the clock and Marcio Lassiter’s own in the final seconds meeting the same fate.
Cyrus Baguio led all Alaska scorers with 13 points, including a three-pointer with 1:30 remaining to put the scores at 61-60 that swung the momentum to the Aces.
Casio had 11 points while Abueva chipped in an impressive line of five points and 18 rebounds, seven of which came from the offensive glass.
Fajardo poured in a double-double performance of 10 points and 16 boards with three blocks to go along the way while Santos pitched in 14 points, nine boards and four blocks.
Alaska 66- Baguio 13, Casio 11, Thoss 9, Eman, 8, Manuel 8, Abueva 5, Jazul 4, Banchero 3, Hontiveros 3, Exciminiano 2, Dela Rosa 0, Bugia 0, Vanlandingham 0, Bugia 0, Dela Cruz 0.
San Miguel 63- Santos 14, Lutz 13, Fajardo 10, Mercado 7, Tubid 6, Ross 5, Semerad 4, Lassiter 4, Pascual 0, Hubalde 0, Omolon 0, Chua 0.