It appears the Columbian Dyip have found the perfect import. Coach Johnedel Cardel believes Khapri Alston's post-up game is well suited for a team that is lacking in firepower inside the paint. Alston proved that by leading the Dyip to a 117-110 win over Alaska in the kickoff match of the PBA Governors' Cup on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
"One thing: We have a good import," Cardel said in Filipino during the post-game interview.
Cardel, though, believes Alston has much more up his sleeve.
"Of course, he's still adjusting to the Filipino way of the game. I told him it's a very physical game," he said.
Alston didn't seem bothered by the physicality. At 6-foot-3, he was able to impose his might in the paint on his way to 38 points, 22 rebounds, four assists, and three steals.
"Even though he's small, he plays like a 6'10. He's very down to earth. The locals love him."
But the Dyip also turned to its leader in CJ Perez when the chips were down. Perez, fresh from his FIBA World Cup stint with the national team, delivered the crucial baskets as well as five free throws in the final 1:12 to wind up with 28 points, 13 rebounds, and two steals.
His stint for Gilas has done wonders for Perez.
"He's very smart. I just told him that I need him to be confident because he is the leader of the team," Cardel said when asked what changed since Perez played for the national team.
More importantly, this win marked the end of an eight-game losing streak of the franchise against Alaska according to PBA chief statistician Fidel Mangonon.
The last time the Dyip beat the Aces, they secured their only playoff appearance.
The Dyip spoiled a 40-point debut for Alaska import Justine Watts. Watts finished with 40 points and 14 rebounds for the Aces, who underwent changes the past month starting with replacing head coach Alex Compton with Jeff Cariaso.
New acquisition Abu Tratter had 15 points and nine rebounds.
Columbian 117 - Alston 38, Perez 28, Khobuntin 16, Tiongson 11, McCarthy 11, Camson 5, Calvo 4, Flores 4, Celda 0, Reyes 0, Cahilig 0, Gabayni 0.
Alaska 110 - Watts 40, Tratter 15, Manuel 14, Enciso 11, Ayaay 9, Thoss 6, Galliguez 6, Casio 4, Banchero 3, Baclao 2, Pascual 0.
Quarterscores: 28-22, 56-56, 93-81, 117-110
New Alaska acquisition Maverick Ahanmisi, still nursing an injury, sat out the match. He was shipped by Rain or Shine to the Aces last month.
Noy Baclao injured his right knee after a bad landing with 11:02 remaining in the fourth quarter. He had to be wheeled out of the court.
Alaska vs. Ginebra on September 22 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Columbian vs. Rain or Shine on September 22 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.