As predicted, yesterday’s game was a very exciting one as both teams were very determined to grab a hold of the top spot. The Aces exerted their dominance in the first quarter, leading Barako by 17 points at 38-21. However, they began to relax and let their guard down, allowing the Energy Cola to catch up on scoring. Luckily, the Aces were able to adjust right when they needed to and took the win, 77-73.

The Aces were led by Robert Dozier, who has been improving every game, with 19 points and 20 rebounds. Cyrus Baguio led the locals with 11 points, and was a crucial part in stopping the scoring of Barako in the second half. A crucial play was when he was able to get a steal off Jonas Villanueva when they were threatening to tie the game with just about two minutes left. JVee Casio contributed 9 points, while Jazul, Espinas, and Thoss threw in 8 points each.

Gabby Espinas, Alaska Aces

Gabby Espinas fighting for a rebound (Photo Credit: Pranz Billiones, InterAKTV)

Barako Bull put up a good fight especially in the second half of the game, when Mark Macapagal was able to give them the lead with a solid 3-pointer. The two teams continued to have a neck and neck battle, exchanging points all throughout the third and fourth quarter. The Aces’ prayers were answered when Barako Bull import Evan Brock missed two foul shots in the last minute of the game, allowing them to hold on to the lead.

Let’s review the keys to the game:

1. Stopping the two J’s – The Aces did a great job of stopping Jonas Villanueva and Josh Urbiztondo. Villanueva only got to score 10 points. Urbiztondo on the other hand, was able to lead the scoring at 15 points but was scoreless in the last quarter. This shows that the Aces were really able to adjust accordingly and were well prepared to defend him. A scoring bout from Josh in the last moments of the game could have easily turned the results around.

2. Continued production from Dozier – Things are looking sunny for Alaska on the import front, with Robert Dozier scoring 19 points and a whopping 20 rebounds. With an import leading the way, it is easier for the rest of the players to do their roles well. Cyrus Baguio has been consistent in the last three games, and Sonny Thoss has been doing a good job defending the post against much bigger imports. Though Calvin Abueva only scored 4 points this time around, he still had a lot to contribute in defense.

3. Determination, determination, determination – Obviously the Aces were more determined than Barako this time around. It was a close call, so we’ll see what happens in the second round.

Will the Aces continue to dominate? Let’s all watch out for their next game on Saturday, February 23 against Ginebra. Game will be held at 6:30pm in Lanao del Norte.