The two-minute warning in the fourth quarter served as a sign to step on the gas pedal for the Alaska Aces as a strong ending from head coach Alex Compton's squad gave them a 127-119 victory against rivals San Miguel Beermen, Saturday night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
With the big win over SMB, the Aces forged a three-way tie at the second spot with the Magnolia Hotshots and Blackwater Elite with five wins against a single defeat. The Beermen drop to the eighth spot with two wins against four losses.
The guards of the Alaska had another great night with Chris Banchero finishing with 15 points and 12 assists while Simon Enciso finished 18 points on 6 of 11 shooting from the three-point region.
Although Alaska is known more for their defense, they willingly engaged SMB in a firefight in Antipolo. Chris Banchero continued his stellar play this conference as he canned a crucial three-point shot to give the Aces a 121-113 advantage. After forcing a miss on the other side, Alaska went on the run, leading to a wide open layup for Vic Manuel to give them their first double-digit lead of the game and put the Beermen away for good.
The Aces got another huge performance from their import Mike Harris with 36 points, 23 rebounds, four assists, and two blocks but the big difference in the game was the bench of Alaska.
Manuel was the Best Player of the Game with 20 points off the bench with Jeron Teng and Chris Exciminiano also adding double digits from the second unit with a combined 23 points. SMB, on the other end, only had five points from their bench, all from Kelly Nabong.
"Our execution in the end game was good because we avoided turnovers," said Manuel after the game. "We're happy to win but we cannot be contented. We still have a lot of games to go so we need to retain our focus."
The Beermen got another huge scoring night from their new import Kevin Murphy. He scored 37 points in his debut but pushed himself even more with 45 markers against the Aces while adding 11 rebounds and four assists. However, the problem seems to be all about figuring out how they should balance out their minutes at the guard spot with their new import taking a majority of the shots.
Murphy took 31 attempts while Alex Cabagnot had 14 points in 14 attempts, which limited Chris Ross to only two field goal opportunities, failing to score in 22 minutes.
After their import, Christian Standhardinger was SMB's next top performer with another big double-double (28 points and 13 rebounds), as he continues to take a case for himself as a contender for Best Player of the Conference. Arwind Santos was not that far behind statistically with 20 points, three rebounds, 2 steals, and a whopping seven blocks.
Alaska 127 - Harris 36, Manuel 20, Enciso 18, Banchero 15, Teng 12, Exciminiano 11, Racal 7, Casio 7, Pascual 1, Baclao 0.
San Miguel 119 - Murphy 45, Standhardinger 28, Santos 20, Cabagnot 14, Lassiter 7, Nabong 5, Ross 0, Mamaril 0, Rosser 0.
Quarters: 34-36, 67-64, 93-89, 127-119.
The Beermen continued to miss the services of June Mar Fajardo who was still out because of a leg injury. However, SMB received good news before the match against the Aces as The Kraken could be ready to see action in two weeks.
The Aces looked like the more cohesive team as their offense featured much more than just giving the ball to their import. Alaska had a 33-16 edge in assists versus SMB.
San Miguel Beer: October 12 versus Phoenix Fuel Masters at the Mall of Asia Arena
Alaska: October 14 versus Magnolia Hotshots at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum