Alaska built enough cushion in the first half to comfortably speed past Blackwater, 101-91, for its second win of the 2019 PBA Governors' Cup Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Franko House and Abu Tratter both put up 18 points, while Jeron Teng scattered 17 points, 7 boards and 3 assists for the Aces, who rose to 2-6 following the win. Vic Manuel also added 12 points and 5 boards.
"I wanna commend the guys for sticking to this process that we're on, understanding the details matter. Our focus was really defensively, on the small details. I'm kinda proud with the fact that guys are just continuing to come in each and every game, focused, they're engaged, they're inspired despite of our record. They still came out and did their best, slowly looking like the team we're kind of expecting," coach Jeff Cariaso said after the game.
Alaska scored in bunches in ending its first two quarters to mount a huge lead that would keep them safe in the second half despite some resistance from the Elite. After a 12-2 burst to end a strong first quarter buoyed by Tratter, the Aces rolled out a 12-0 run behind Teng and House to build an imposing 60-36 lead at the half.
That march slowed down a bit in the third, where the Aces committed nine of its turnovers in a quarter that also saw Marqus Blakely, Mac Belo and newly-traded Elite forward Nino Canaleta combine for 26 of the team's 39 points to close the gap to eight multiple tines.
Fortunately for the Aces, the distance it managed to keep in the first three quarters proved to be more than enough to supplement a strong defensive showing in a bounce-back payoff period, where Blackwater managed just 16 points after a torrid third period.
"What we didn't do in the first half that they did in the third quarter were easy layups, transition points. We went back to finding what we do best and what we need to build on, which is our defense," Cariaso noted. "We settled down in that fourth quarter and we defended better. When you defend better, it makes it easier for your offense.
"Third quarter, careless turnovers. Quick shots were hurting us. When we missed and when we turned the ball over, they were running. We adjusted in the fourth and I'm happy about that."
Alaska is still in the running for one of the lower playoff seeds despite a very sluggish start, and Cariaso is hoping that his wards can build on the positives it gained in its two wins so far this conference.
"Very hopeful. Like we said, until it's clear that we don't have a chance, we're gonna battle. These guys, we take pride in what we do with our jobs. I'm hesitating because the Alaska pride is what we talk about always. That's never settling, never being OK with mediocrity. We still have a chance," he said.
"Again the focus is one game. I know it's a cliche but we're taking it one game at a time, and that next game is NorthPort. We're gonna prepare well for them and we're gonna prepare the next game after that as we move forward. As long as we progress and we get better, we feel the results will take care of itself," Cariaso added.
Blackwater slid to a 2-6 record and to its third straight loss. Blakely posted another all-around line of 19 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 blocks and 2 steals, while Canaleta provided a good account of himself in his return to the Elite by ending up with 18 markers on 5-for-5 shooting from deep.
Alaska 101 - Teng 19, House 18, Tratter 18, Manuel 12, Banchero 9, Thoss 7, Racal 6, Pascual 4, Ayaay 3, Casio 3, Enciso 2.
Blackwater 91 - Blakely 19, Canaleta 18, Parks 14, Belo 14, Desiderio 11, Cruz 5, Heruela 4, Cortez 2, Sumang 2, Tolomia 2, Al-Hussaini 0,
Quarters: 29-19, 60-36, 84-75, 101-91.
- Alaska's defense did wonders for them during that first half. Blackwater found iron on only 26.7 percent of its shots in the second quarter and made only 34.3 percent from the field overall in the first 24 minutes. In contrast, the Aces shot a blistering 65 percent.
- The Aces, though, are still making the least 3-pointers per game at only 6.5 per game on a 31.3 percent clip (10th).
- Blackwater vs. Barangay Ginebra on Oct. 30 at the Cuneta Astrodome
- Alaska vs. NorthPort on Nov. 3 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum