Alaska was supposed to lose this game. They were down early and never had flow or rhythm to their game.They allowed TNT to build a 6-point lead after the first quarter before they rallied in the second to make the game close, entering the second half with just a 1-point deficit. It was supposed to not matter though. Ryan Reyes, went H-A-M on dem Aces and drained not 1, not 2, not 3 but F-O-U-R threes in a span of about 3 minutes. He was instrumental in pushing a 1-point lead to a 12-point lead. Rookie Kevin Alas took the Midas hand out of Reyes’ hand and went on to score eight points (two triples) to help push the lead to as big as 18 midway through the third. Once again, Alaska rallied to cut the lead to a more manageable 12 entering the final stage of the game.
However, unlike in previous quarter transitions, Alaska never let up. They were able to cut the lead to three, three minutes into the fourth. From then on, it would be a tug-of-war game between both teams. In the final seconds of the fourth, TNT had a chance to grab a decisive 4-point lead when MGR made a beautiful lead pass to a streaking RDO. As luck would have it, RDO fumbled the ball out of bounds. Abueva would then draw a pair of fouls, which he calmly sank to even the score. After what appeared to be a clean steal from Casio, Abueva went coast-to-coast to seal the comeback from Alaska.
Final Score: 98-100
- Although Abueva, once again, lead all scorers with 26, he didn’t do it as efficiently as he did the last time. He shot just 42.8 percent from the field, with most of his points coming from the stripe (14 of 18). His biggest contribution, however, came from the rebounding side, where he grabbed about 30 percent of the total available rebounds. He singlehandedly outrebounded the entire team of Talk ‘n Text on the offensive glass. The entire repertoire of badges under Abueva’s belt (to use a 2K term) was on full display:
- Fierce Competitor (“Elevates his game when being outplayed or instigated”) – it was Abueva that brought Alaska back from an early game deficit and back from an 18-point deficit in the third.
- Unfazed (“Plays through fatigue and injury without experiencing full negative consequences”) – despite a horrendous fall, Abueva was still able to play through that. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a bruised tailbone or something.
- Swagger (“Gets himself going by making big plays”) – he made one big play after another, punctuated by that game winning floater.
- Heart and Soul (“Rallies team when things are getting out of hand. Helps team stay focused”) – once he enters the game, he makes big plays and gets his teammates going with his going despite the odds stacked against them.
- Tenacious Rebounder (“Relentless in going for rebounds”) – 22 rebounds. ‘Nuff said.
- Vic Manuel had a very Vic Manuel-like game — 10 points, 12 rebounds in 15 invisible minutes. Without a doubt, one of Alaska’s best acquisitions over the past few conferences.
- Chris Banchero, Alaska’s prized rookie, at times looked like he was worthy of the hype and at times looked like a man among boys. Typical rookie. But I was most impressed by his … slick back hair. Few people in the world can pull that off. Even fewer can pull that off WHILE playing basketball. If his basketball career doesn’t pan out (I hope it does for Alaska’s sake), he has a future in modeling.
- The Aces are incorporating more non-Triangle offense based actions. And it’s great to see. Although you still see some of their pet plays (the pinch post action, the low post clear out, the side PNR on the non-triangle involved players on the other side), they’ve incorporated some other sets that uses Casio’s shooting more with staggered screen/handoffs and some flare screen actions. Great way to diversify an offense (if the personnel can sustain/maintain it).
- Matt Ganuelas-Rosser was the most impressive rookie for me in this game. Sure, Kevin Alas scored 15 points on 9 shots in 15 minutes. (Ok that’s really impressive). However, it was Ganuelas who made an impact on both sides of the court. 8 points (on 5 shots), 6 rebounds, 5 assists and generally being that hyper-athletic all-around help defender was impressive. Tell me again how Talk ‘N Text got him without giving up one of their core players?
This was a hard game for Alaska — as I said, TNT is their philosophical nemesis. But a win’s a win and they’re going to take it.
(Featured Image: Nuki Sabio, PBA)