Aces foil winless Beermen in rematch of PBA PH Cup finals | Inquirer Sports
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Aces foil winless Beermen in rematch of PBA PH Cup finals

By: - Reporter / @MarkGiongcoINQ
/ 10:03 PM February 17, 2015
 Marcio Lassiter of San Miguel (light) vs Ping Exciminiano of Alaska (dark). PBA IMAGE by Nuki Sabio

Marcio Lassiter of San Miguel (light) vs Ping Exciminiano of Alaska (dark). PBA IMAGE by Nuki Sabio

MANILA, Philippines — If there was to be another game in last conference’s championship series between Alaska and San Miguel Beer, the two teams’ meeting on Tuesday night—a first  since the Philippine Cup Finals—was it.

In another game of spurts, Alaska and San Miguel picked up where they left off with the shorthanded Aces exacting revenge over the slumping Beermen, 107-100, in the 2015 PBA Commissioner’s Cup nearly a month removed from scintillating seven-game series.

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“Felt like we really needed to win,” said Alaska head coach Alex Compton, whose squad improved to 2-2. “Today, we played better. I thought we had contributions from all around.”

Alaska welcomed back its hardworking big men Vic Manuel and Calvin Abueva after missing one game due to a knee injury and the two gave the Aces, who continued to miss the services of Sonny Thoss (foot) and JVee Casio (wrist), a big boost on both ends.

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And with Casio out, rookie Chris Banchero also gave the Aces a lift scoring eight of his 14 points in the fourth quarter that went with seven rebounds, five assists and three steals.

Alaska trailed by as much as 11 and spent more time catching up. But as what the Aces had shown in the finals, they rallied every time the Beermen appeared poised to pull away.

This time, they took control down the stretch as Banchero followed up a miss by Manuel before hitting a floater over the outstretched arms of 6-foot-10 June Mar Fajardo to put Alaska on top, 100-91, with 1:43 left.

A 3-pointer by Chris Lutz cut the Aces’ lead down to three, 103-100, before Dondon Hontiveros sank two free throws with 24.9 seconds to go and Fajardo missed a triple from the top of the key.

The Beermen’s previous losses were at the hands of Barangay Ginebra and expansion teams Kia and Blackwater and the way they’re playing, a 0-5 start is possible with league-leading Meralco next in their schedule.
At 0-4, San Miguel remained as the only winless team in the league after NLEX ripped Blackwater earlier after losing its first three games.

Ronald Roberts Jr. led the Beermen with 24 points but was scoreless in the fourth quarter. Reigning MVP and Philippine Cup Best Player Fajardo added 21 points, 13 coming in the final frame, along with 17 rebounds.

And just when things couldn’t get any worse for SMB forward Arwind Santos, he hurt his left knee in the second quarter and logged just seven minutes and 50 seconds of playing time to finish with four points and two rebounds.

Santos was the Game 7 hero and was named Finals MVP of last conference’s title showdown. But he couldn’t get anything going for him so far this conference.

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TAGS: Alaska Aces, Basketball, PBA, San Miguel Beermen, Sports
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