The Alaska Aces were able to see heroics from three different players in their 87-81 win against the Magnolia Hotshots, Saturday evening at the AUF Gym in Angeles, Pampanga.
Jeron Teng scored eight of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, while Jvee Casio added 17 and the biggest stop of the night against the much taller Jackson Corpuz to seal their first win of the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup in three contests.
Up 85-81, the diminutive floor general soared to deflect the desperation heave of Corpuz with about 15 seconds to go. Earlier on, Mike Digregorio drilled the dagger three-pointer over Mark Barroca with 54.6 seconds left to hike the lead to four, 83-79.
In the ensuing possession, Barroca tried to fish a foul from Vic Manuel, but remained vertical to deny a contested jumper. When Alaska got the stop, Teng turned over the ball, which led to the streaking Barroca in attempting a contested layup. However, when he spun the rock off the window, Alaska's Abu Tratter was called for goaltending with 35.0 seconds left, when he tapped the backboard.
Digregorio's two charities with 25.3 remaining closed the door for any potential comeback. He ended up with 10 points.
"Honestly it's a part of how we do things. I think we have the team right now who can put up numbers from the 3. It's really just establishing ourselves and getting the groove back. I really still feel we're out of rhythm," said Alaska head coach Jeff Cariaso in the walk-off press conference.
"Our flow is still inconsistent. Just going into the game, you kind of don't know what we're expecting, to be honest with you. We just try to be our best. I challenged the guys going into tonight's game that we just need to be better in what we do. And the guys showed it tonight - defensively, they were a lot better than the first two games. We just hope to improve as the conference goes on," added the first-year mentor.
Down by two, 66-64, to start the fourth quarter, Teng opened up the payoff period by powering through the defense for two close bank shots to lead, 68-66. Magnolia then responded with five straight points to regain the advantage, 69-68.
However, Alaska clapped back with five straight points of their own to lead 74-70. After a couple of answers, capped off by a Jio Jalalon floater with 1:47 left to bridge the gap to one, 80-79, the two squads went scoreless for almost a minute before Digregorio nailed the big line-drive triple.
"We approached this game thinking we were 1-1. And I say that because we felt like we should've won that first game. Mistakes we made were our mistakes, things that we could control. So when you approach it that way compared to being 0-2, I think the mindset is different," recalled Cariaso. "You come into this game against a very well-coached and very talented Magnolia team, they have superstars on their team that we really have to be worried about. To be able to step up and be better defensively was my biggest take on tonight's game."
Barroca topscored for Magnolia with 16 points and five assists, while Lee chipped in 14 as the Hotshots sank to 1-2.
Alaska (87) -- Teng 19, Casio 17, Tratter 10, Digregorio 10, Manuel 9, Herndon 7, Galliguez 6, Ebona 5, Brondial 4, Andrada 0, Publico 0, Ayaay 0, Marcelino 0, Ahanmisi 0.
Magnolia (81) -- Barroca 16, Lee 14, Banchero 13, Jajlon 11, Dionsio 11, Sangalang 8, dela Rosa 7, Corpuz 2, Melton 0, Reavis 0, Calisaan 0, Abundo 0, Pascual 0, Saitanan 0.
Quarter Scores: 21-29, 43-45, 62-64, 87-81.
Magnolia's Chris Banchero faced his former team for the first time since being traded for Robbie Herndon and Rodney Brondial in Nov. 2019. He finished with 13 points. Meanwhile, Herndon and Brondial combined for 11.
Alaska forward Kevin Racal watched the game from the bench almost a week after completely tearing his right ACL. It is unknown when he will return to Manila, but is undergoing therapy inside the PBA bubble.
Alaska vs Blackwater, Oct. 20, at 6:45 p.m.
Magnolia vs Meralco, Oct. 20, at 4 p.m.