Alaska clobbers Phoenix for 5th straight win


MANILA — The resurgent Alaska Aces rampaged to their fifth straight win after a 0-2 conference start as they blasted the Phoenix Fuel Masters, 93-75, in the PBA Philippine Cup Wednesday night at Mall of Asia Arena.

Alaska thus grabbed the solo third spot in the standings behind Magnolia and San Miguel Beer, both with a 5-1 win-loss card.

The Aces once again flaunted their patented pressing defense to post their first five-game winning streak since March 2016 in the Commissioner’s Cup. So suffocating was Alaska’s defense that Phoenix’s deadly duo of Matthew Wright and Jeff Chan, who led their team, was limited to an atrocious 12-of37 shooting from the field. The Aces also held the Fuel Masters to a dismal 33 percent shooting (30-of-90) from the field and forced Phoenix to commit 23 turnovers.

Chris Banchero and the comebacking Calvin Abueva paced the Aces with Banchero tallying a team-high 22 points on 6-of-8 shooting, five rebounds, four assists in over 28 minutes of play. Abueva — who left Alaska’s last game against Blackwater due to a family emergency — was just as explosive, finishing with 21 points, 15 boards, four steals, one assist and one block in just 25 minutes off the bench.

Defense specialist Noy Baclao made a rousing return from a knee injury, adding 10 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks in just 12 minutes.

The Aces started hot, roaring to a 21-4 lead to start the game. They led in double digits the rest of the way, with the Fuel Masters unable to mount any significant rally.

Wright led Phoenix with 16 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists while Chan added 14 markers. Rookie Jason Perkins chipped in 12 markers. With the loss, Phoenix skidded to a 3-4 win-loss mark at solo eighth place in the standings.

TNT Katropa 90, Kia 85

The TNT KaTropa Texters avoided a humiliating defeat with a 90-85 squeaker over the Kia Picanto, thanks to the endgame heroics of the comeback RR Garcia.

With their upset win over Rain or Shine still fresh, the Picanto showed a lot of spunk and guts and even grabbed the lead momentarily in the third quarter before fading in the homestretch in the face of TNT’s relentless assault.

Kelly Williams and Jayson Castro led the Texters, finishing with 23 and 22 points, respectively as TNT picked its fourth win in seven games, rising to solo fourth place in the standings. Williams also had eight boards, one block, and one assist in 32 minutes

Garcia finished with 13 markers, including back-to-back baskets with less than two minutes to finally seal the win for the Texters. He also had five rebounds, one assist, and only one turnover in over 29 minutes off the bench.

Rashawn McCarthy once again led Kia with 21 points, seven assists, four boards, and one steal. Jackson Corpuz added 17 points, eight rebounds, three steals, three blocks, and two assists in a losing effort.

Games Friday: Blackwater Elite (2-4) vs. Magnolia Hotshots (5-1) and Rain or Shine Elasto Painters (3-3) vs. Meralco Bolts (2-4).