The game started out well for Alaska. They allowed just 18 points on 24 possessions in the first quarter and they were able to score 27 points on 25 possessions. Offensively, they were led by their import, DJ Covington, who scored six points and made a lot of great plays early. However, it was Dondon‘s back-to-back triples late that allowed Alaska to secure the momentum and grab a nine-point lead.
It was short-lived.
Globalport would then put the clamp down and proceed to outscore the Aces, 26-8 in the 2nd quarter. Globalport’s big three of Pringle, Romeo and Leslie would combine to score 16 points in that quarter. Alaska had no answer for multiple big runs by Globalport (a 12-0 and a 12-2 run). After a great first quarter, Alaska was MASSACRED in the second, down by 9 heading into the second half.
Sadly, that would be the story (at least for Alaska). Alaska was never able to get over that proverbial hump. Hontiveros was able to cut the lead to four midway through the third, 54-50. But CJ Leslie was having none of it – scoring on an unfinished And-1 and then on a pull up J that would push the lead back up to eight.
Alaska’s (understandable) inability to score would be their death as early baskets by Ponferada (who sneakily slipped through space on drives by his guards) pushed the lead to 12. Alaska, showing the perseverance that made them darlings in the Philippine Cup, were of course going at it. But their defense can barely save itself, let alone save a drowning offense crumbling under the weight of injuries. Globalport could not deliver the coup de grâce. Alaska holding on for dear life with gritty play, depending on free throws and their import to keep the game within shouting distance (at least, in Alaska’s terms). They were milking (pun intended) enough points and doing just enough defensively to not let themselves get discouraged.
Then Terrence Romeo happened. That was the straw that broke that camel’s back. Or cow, it doesn’t matter. Terrence Romeo razed hell on Alaska’s dying pasture, curdling what little milk they had left and branding the Alaska team with a big fat L in the butt (all pun intended).
Romeo, or better yet, Rom3333o would hit four straight in-your-face threes that dripped with swag (ok, enough puns). His final trey, with about two minutes left in the game, would give him six three-point makes and 25 points in total. Combined with Leslie’s methodical dismantling of Covington — or whoever Alaska decided to stick with him — to the tune of 30 points, and the story basically writes itself.
- Globalport continues to surprise me with some interesting sets. This has been true from Glenn Capacio’s days. The elevator screens for Gary David, the roll-pop handoff sets involving Japeth (either as the roll or the pop guy), the unique guard-on-big cross screen to get a switch on the block for Jay Wash, or the drag screen sets they now employ for Pringle or Romeo. This game, it was the big-to-big screen between Leslie and Ponferada (not exactly sure) that netted four points (five, if Leslie made his free throws) on two occasions. Alaska was powerless to stop Leslie — their bigs were unaccustomed to playing “guard” on a ball screen not to mention the obvious quickness advantage Leslie had over any of Alaska’s bigs. They didn’t have the personnel to make good use of those sets. They have them now.
- Terrence Romeo es en fuego.
- The battle of the boards? That wasn’t as easy as I thought it would (Or hoped it would. See: above). CJ Leslie did most of the heavy lifting, with splits of 19/34.3/26.2 but Pringle (12.3 total rebounding percentage), Buenafe (17.7) and Romeo (9.4) all did their part in getting that 11-point lead in the rebounding column (percentage).
- I was, however, spot on with my other prediction. Globalport only turned the ball over on 10.8 percent of their possessions. That’s a very low number. That’s because Globalport has the guards (Pringle, Romeo, Miranda) to handle the press. In fact, Alaska stopped pressing full court at some point in the third (when the game was still in the balance).
- DJ Covington had a good game offensively – 25 points (on 15 shots) using a bevy of moves to get his shots, none more beautiful than the And-1 finger roll. He also added a thunderous slam. All in all, he has the 3rd highest PER in the league. Offensively, he’s more than capable as a PBA import. It’s on the defensive side where he struggles to meet expectations.
- It was sad to see Banchero crash hard after a strong start to the conference. No basket in five tries, and was generally invisible throughout the game.
The Aces will have a one-week layoff before they face the Beermen. The road gets tougher from here with the Painters and the suddenly “surging” Barako, next. Here’s to a swift and safe recovery to the injured Aces.