THE Alaska Aces are now in the win column of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup following a 93-74 victory over the Blackwater Elite in their curtain-raising encounter yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Tripped in their tournament debut last time around, the Aces used a strong start to the game and a solid finish to stave off a spirited challenge by the Elite midway into the contest to notch their first win in the midseason PBA conference.
The Aces sprinted to a huge early lead to start the contest, 27-11, by the end of the opening quarter with their local crew doing much of the damage on both ends of the quarter.
Alaska continued to pound on Blackwater to begin the second canto, outscoring the latter, 10-2, in the first four minutes to extend their lead to 21 points, 37-16.
It was a situation that the milk masters would further exploit as the quarter progressed, stretching the separation to 30 points, 49-19, with 3:23 to go.
The Elite though chalked up baskets as the first half wound up, cutting their deficit, 54-29, by the break.
Recognizing that it shot itself in the foot for coming out flat for much of the opening half, Blackwater came out more aggressive to start the third quarter.
It racked up nine straight points to open proceedings, led by JP Erram and import Jarrid Famous, to cut its deficit to just 16 points, 54-38, with three minutes lapsing.
Mr. Famous and the rest of the Elite sustained their rally, slicing their deficit some more to 62-54, by the 2:25 mark.
The Aces eventually survived the onslaught of Blackwater, holding a 10-point cushion, 66-56, heading into the payoff quarter.
With the outcome of the match hardly decided as the final 12 minutes commenced, the two teams tried hard to establish tempo and control.
Alaska would beat Blackwater to the draw, sprinting to a 78-62 advantage with 7:50 left on the clock.
Vic Manuel and Antonio Campbell would fortify Alaska’s lead as they provided the offense thereafter to stretch their lead anew to 21 points, 89-68, with three minutes to go.
No Blackwater comeback would happen from there on, handing the victory to the Aces.
Mr. Manuel led the Aces (1-1) with 27 points while Mr. Campbell had 23 points and 19 rebounds.
Mr. Famous finished with 27 points and 21 rebounds for Blackwater, which fell to 0-3 with its latest defeat.
Adding 11 points for the Elite, meanwhile, was Mr. Erram, who also had the same number of boards.
“Coach said has always been saying that we must translate what we do in practice and it showed tonight,” said Mr. Manuel, named player of the game, after their victory.
Alaska returns to action on Friday, May 4, versus Columbian Dyip while Blackwater next plays GlobalPort Batang Pier on Wednesday, May 2.
-Michael Angelo S. Murillo-