PBA: Alaska grabs share of top spot after fending off NLEX
Alaska took shared ownership of the top seed after overcoming NLEX, 120-111, in the 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Friday at Mall of Asia Arena.
The Aces bumped their winning streak to seven games and improved to a 7-1 record, tying Rain or Shine at the head of the standings while the Road Warriors dropped to 2-7.
After a relatively comfortable first quarter where they led 28-14, the Aces got a dose of reality in the next two periods when the Road Warriors became the aggressor and ended the third trailing by just two, 88-86.
NLEX then pushed further at the start of the fourth with a 7-0 run to take a 93-88 lead after Arnett Moultrie’s jumper.
Alaska countered with a 16-4 run with Anthony Campbell scoring five straight points, a three-pointer and two free throws, to give the Aces a 104-97 lead midway through the fourth.
“I think we got a little happy at the first quarter then I felt NLEX smashed us in the mouth, beat us most of the third,” said Aces head coach Alex Compton. “We’re just fortunate to make plays at the end.”
Although NLEX was able to trim the deficit to two, 108-106, the Aces showed enough composure for the 12-2 game-closing run with Chris Banchero’s layup putting Alaska up 120-108 with 1:02 left in the game.
“The fact we made shots really mattered,” added Compton. “I wasn’t happy with our defense but credit to coach Yeng [Guiao], to his system, and to his team. They made shots and they made plays.”
Campbell finished with a team-high 28 points with eight rebounds to lead the Aces while Vic Manuel had 22 points and 11 rebounds.
JVee Casio also finished in double digits for Alaska with 16 points with Kevin Racal and Simon Enciso putting up 13 points apiece while Banchero had 12 points and seven assists.
Moultrie had a game-high 34 points to lead the Road Warriors while JR Quiñahan added 17 points.