Aces whip Bolts

Alaska leaned on a strong finish to turn back Meralco, 93-89, for its third straight win in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Sunday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.

Chris Banchero, Chris Daniels, Vic Manuel and Jeron Teng alternated  on offense, but Banchero and Enciso were also there to help steer the Aces out of harm’s way.

The Aces built lead as big as 13 (68-55), but the Bolts slowly clawed back in contention and turned the game tight in the last four minutes.

A triple by Baser Amer with 1:45 remaining put the Bolts within 88-87, but Banchero came to the rescue as he quickly scored on a layup, while Enciso followed suit with a basket as Alaska made it 92-87, with still 65 seconds left.

The Bolts threatened for the last time at 92-89 on Gani Lawal’s basket, before Enciso came up with a free throw to give Alaska a 93-89 lead. The Bolts still had 24 seconds to work out a play a quick play, but were unfortunate to connect in the ensuing play.

The Aces chalked up their fourth win in six outings, while sending the Bolts reeling to their third loss in six games.

Banchero finished with 23 points, nine rebounds and four assists, Manuel added 17 points and six rebounds, and Daniels 12 points and five rebounds. Teng had 10 points and four rebounds.

Lawal, who outduelled his Alaska counterpart, came through with 25 points and 23 rebounds, but failed to get ample support from the locals, with Amer the only one who finished in double figures with 11 points.

The Aces opened up a nine-point lead early in the third, 51-42, following a 8-0 roll ignited by Chris Daniels basket, but the Bolts fought back behind a Bong Quinto who struck for two triples and jumper as Alaska moved within 57-52.

The Bolts however lost their touch in offense, unable to score in a span of nearly four minutes.

The Aces took advantage of the situation as they unleashed an 11-0 counterattack to build a 68-55 lead with 3:37 left in the third.

The Bolts restored their play through John Pinto who sank a triple followed by a basket each by Quinto and Gani Lawal to narrow the gap at 68-62.

Abel Galliguez cut the Bolts momentum with his own triple, but Anjo Caram answered right away with a basket and Cliff Hodge added two free throws as Meralco stayed within striking distance at the end of the third, 71-66.

The scores:

Alaska (93) - Banchero 23, Manuel 17, Daniels 12, Teng 10, Pascual 7, Thoss 7, Enciso 5, Galliguez 5, Casio 3, Racal 2, Cruz 2.

Meralco (89) - Lawal 27, Amer 11, Salva 9, Quinto 9, Newsome 8, Caram 7, Hugnatan 4, Hodge 4, De Ocampo 3, Pinto 3, Canaleta 2, Jackson 2, Almazan 0.

Quarterscores: 18-19, 44-42, 71-66, 93-89