|Alaska's Robert Dozier puts up a shot over Barako Bull's Evan Brock in their PBA Commissioner's Cup game Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines - Alaska Milk blew an early 17-point lead but recovered in time to repulse Barako Bull, 77-73, in a duel of unbeaten teams and wrest the solo lead two weeks into the elimination phase of the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last night.
The Aces, who gave the Talk n Text Tropang Texters a tough challenge before yielding in their all-Filipino semifinal showdown, continued to make a good impression, holding off the Energy Cola in a scrambling finish to notch their third straight win following earlier victories over the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters and the Meralco Bolts.
Robert Dozier, Dondon Hontiveros, Calvin Abueva and Cyrus Baguio delivered the goods in the crunch as the Aces survived their second-half slump, dropping the Energy Cola to joint second with the Globalport Batang Pier and the Bolts at 2-1.
"We let our guards down and so we had to battle them in the end," said Dozier, saving Alaska from disaster as he scored seven of his game-high 19 points in the last eight minutes of the low-scoring game.
Baguio came up with his own huge plays, including a clean steal off Jonas Villanueva that he translated into a breakaway layup as Alaska regained control, 75-70, entering the last two minutes of play.
"Cyrus has been our most consistent guy. He's easy to coach and he works hard. He's again there for us tonight," said Alaska coach Luigi Trillo.
He, however, himself rued their second-half struggle that saw them squander their 17-point bulge at 38-21.
"I told our guys we've got to do it better defensively. We've got to make some stops then our offense will get better," said Trillo.
"It feels great continuing winning but then we have to stay humble. We’ve got to keep working; we've got to keep jelling," said Dozier.
A booming three-pointer by Mark Macapagal shoved Barako on top, 55-54, then the Energy Cola battled the Aces toe-to-toe to the finish.
But Barako Bull import Evan Brock missed two foul shots and a three-point attempt inside the final minute, hastening the Energy Cola’s downfall.
Renaldo Balkman sizzled with 34 points with Junmar Fajardo, Jay Washington and Arwind Santos adding double-digit outputs as Petron Blaze roared to a second straight win with a 105-90 drubbing of Barangay Ginebra in the second game.
"We're getting there but it's still a process," said Petron coach Olsen Racela.