ALASKA secured its ride to the quarterfinals after a masterful 100-85 victory over NLEX in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena last night.
The Aces improved to a 6-5 win-loss record and assured themselves in the next round while dealing the Road Warriors a 5-6 win-loss card.
With the win, they avoided any potential complications in the standings, finishing clear of NLEX, Phoenix and Rain or Shine, which are all gunning for one of the last two spots in the top eight.
LaDontae Henton was the man of the hour for Alaska, finishing with a team-high 27 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
He was later named best player of the game.
Not to be outdone, RJ Jazul and Vic Manuel also had a field day in scoring, leading the locals’ side with 14 and 13 points, respectively.
Sonny Thoss and Calvin Abueva each had 10 points for the Aces’ winning cause.
Of course, nobody is happier than Alaska coach Alex Compton, who sees the win as a huge morale boost for the squad.
“Glad we won that one,” said Compton after the game. “That halftime, we got up by 15.”
But he tipped his hat to NLEX.
“A lot of games, NLEX has been down but they come back. We did not underestimate them,” said Compton.
“I appreciate the heart of the guys, I appreciate them continuing to defend. It’s also obvious that they missed Garvo (Lanete),” Compton added.
“It’s nice to have Vic (Manuel) back, it was really tough last conference when we lost him.”
Compton now looks forward to the playoffs, where they are still waiting their next opponent.
“Now is the playoffs, we’re waiting to see who we’re playing,” said Compton.
It was a close fight at the start with Alaska leading 24-19 in the first period behind the efforts of Henton and Jazul.
It was in the second period when all hell broke loose, as the Aces pulled off a crippling 16-3 blitz from Henton and Jazul to erect a 15-point advantage, 52-37 at the break.
Henton already had 14 points in the first half alone.
NLEX tried to get back into the game in the third canto, starting off the quarter with a strong offensive behind import Henry Walker and managed to trim the gap to five, 70-75 at the onset of the payoff period.
Alaska (100) -- Henton 27, Jazul 14, Manuel 13, Thoss 10, Abueva 10, Casio 7, Racal 6, Banchero 3, Exciminiano 3, Hontiveros 3, Baclao 2, Dela Rosa 2, Magat 0, Dela Cruz 0, Galliguez 0.
NLEX (85) -- Walker 29, Taulava 14, Anthony 11, Khobuntin 10, Villanueva E. 9, Villanueva J. 4, Akl 3, Arboleda 3, Baracael 2, Alas 0, Camson 0, Monfort 0, Reyes 0, Soyud 0, Lanete 0.
Quarterscores: 24-19, 52-37, 75-64, 100-85.