Aces destroy Bolts for third straight win
MANILA, Philippines – The Alaska Aces are known more for their defense, but if the offense they displayed in their easy 105-64 win over the Meralco Bolts on Friday, October 31, is a sign of things to expect from the Aces, then a lot of teams in the 2014-2015 PBA Philippine Cup are going to have long nights when they face head coach Alex Compton's team.
For Meralco, who now drops to 2-1 after the loss, that was certainly the case.
"Our guys just played fantastic," Compton said after the game. "Our shots were falling," he later added.
The Aces shot a more than impressive 57% from the field and went 10-of-21 (47.6%) from 3-point range, while keeping their headstrong identity on defense by limiting the low-energy Bolts to 32% shooting from the field and 10% shooting from downtown.
Vic Manuel came off the bench to lead Alaska, going off for 17 points on 8-of-9 shooting and grabbing down 4 rebounds.
Dondon Hontiveros also provided a spark with 17 points and 4 three-pointers, while rookie guard Chris Banchero registered 11 markers and 8 assists in 24 minutes.
Philippine Cup scoring leader Calvin Abueva (23.5 PPG entering Friday's game) had only 10 points but played only as many minutes due to his team establishing an early huge lead. The Aces' bench, which put up 78 points, outscored the entire Meralco team.
It was the second straight 100-point outing for Alaska, who improved to 3-0 in the conference following a 20-point win against Purefoods last week and a 100-98 victory over Talk 'N Text on Tuesday, October 28.
The Aces opened the game with the upper hand, scoring the first 7 points to build an early lead. Meralco quickly countered by leaning on Cliff Hodge, who used his combination of strength and quickness to get to the free throw line and put up easy baskets in the low block.
Thanks to some early fouls on Abueva, Coach Compton went to Manuel, who made his first five shots and scored 10 points in the first quarter. Entering the second period, the Aces were up by double-digits, 25-15.
Alaska's lead ballooned to 13, 33-20, early in the second period because of Banchero's aggressiveness. The rookie hit his first three attempts from the field.
Bolts coach Norman Black responded by sending back his starters and quickly got results thanks to Hodge and Gary David, whose back-to-back conversions trimmed the Alaska lead to 7.
A 3-pointer by Cyrus Baguio increased the lead back up to 10 for the Aces, who on defense started to use their pressuring full-court press. Facing trouble getting the ball past half-court, Meralco coughed up the handle in consecutive possessions, while Alaska extended their lead up to 44-29.
Hodge led the Bolts with 16 points and 11 rebounds while David had just 4 points. Sean Anthony had 11 points and 7 rebounds but went just 3-of-9 from the field.
Heading to the fourth period, Alaska was ahead 76-52 and scored the quarter's first 8 points thanks to conversions from RJ Jazul, Chris Exciminiano, and Rome Dela Rosa. Not long after, the Aces took an 88-56 lead and cruised to an easy third straight victory.
Game notes: Former Alaska head coach Luigi Trillo faced his former team on Friday as an assistant coach for Meralco. Trillo won a title as the Aces' head coach in the 2013 PBA Commissioner's Cup… Alaska's 41-point margin of victory is their highest since the 2000 PBA Commissioner's Cup… The 41-point disparity is also Meralco's second largest margin of defeat in franchise history. At no. one is their 139-95 defeat at the hands of Rain or Shine in October 2011.
Alaska: takes on San Miguel (2-0), the only other remaining unbeaten PBA team at this moment, on Wednesday, November 5, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Meralco: will face NLEX (2-1) on Wednesday, November 5, also at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
ALASKA (105) - Manuel 17, Hontiveros 16, Banchero 11, Abueva 10, Baguio 8, Jazul 8, Exciminiano 7, Eman 6, Dela Rosa 6, Thoss 5, Bugia 4, Vanlandingham 3, Dela Cruz 2, Casio 2.
MERALCO (64) - Hodge 16, Anthony 11, Dillinger 9, Hugnatan 6, Buenafe 5, Ildefonso 4, David 4, Morrison 3, Wilson 2, Cortez 2, Ferriols 2, Atkins 0, Sena 0, Guevarra 0.
Quarterscores: 25-15, 54-37, 76-52, 105-64
Here are some images of the game taken by Nuki Sabio/PBA Images