Aces rebound, derail Express
Alaska import Rob Dozier defends against Mark Cardona of Ai21 in their PBA Commissioners Cup game. Photo by Nuki Sabio, PBA Images.
MANILA, Philippines - Rob Dozier dished out his best game so far in his PBA return and helped anchor Alaska Milk’s strong finish en route to an 88-78 win over Air21 in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last night.
Dozier showed up Herve Lamizana, while Sonny Thoss, Calvin Abueva, Jvee Casio and RJ Jazul also stepped up as the Aces checked a two-game skid and improved to 2-3 halfway through their stint in the short elimination phase of the mid-season tourney.
Dozier came through with timely hits in the fourth quarter where Alaska outscored Air21, 27-16, to hand the Express a second loss against two wins.
“We really have to have the guys to buy in on what we’re doing. The past games we’re breaking down in terms of game plan,” said Alaska coach Luigi Trillo.
“We played our defense,” Trillo also said on the biggest key on their conquest of the Express. “The other side is excited. It’s been long since they’re winning.”
True enough, the Aces toughened up on defense, shackling down in particular the Air21 frontline tandem of Lamizana and Asi Taulava.
Dozier, the reigning Commissioner’s Cup Best Import, logged 23 points and nine rebounds, four blocks and two assists as against Lamizana’s 16 markers and 10 boards. Taulava was held down to 11 markers.
Still, the two teams engaged in a fierce battle marked by 10 deadlocks and eight lead changes.
The Express led, 62-61, going into the fourth quarter.
Dozier fired a trey in the closing seconds as Alaska took the first quarter at 19-16 then Air21 surged ahead at the half, 41-38, on a crucial binge by Joseph Yeo in the second period.
Meanwhile, Barangay Ginebra is now considering to tap in former NBA player Darnell Jackson as replacement to Leon Rodgers.
Jackson, a three-year NBA veteran with stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Sacramento Kings, is in town, brought in by the Meralco Bolts.
However, Jackson reportedly refused to join the Bolts’ practice session yesterday with Brian Butch still under contract as the Meralco reinforcement.
Jackson, apparently, now wants to void his own deal with Meralco.
Earlier, Ginebra had considered bringing in Gabe Freeman but failed to get in touch with the two-time PBA Best Import awardee.
“Malabo na rin since we’ve heard that the he last played was in November in Mexico,” said The STAR source.
Alaska 88 – Dozier 23, Thoss 14, Abueva 13, Casio 10, Jazul 10, Hontiveros 6, Baguio 6, Dela Cruz 2, Espinas 2, Manuel 2, Reyes 0.
Air21 78 – Yeo 19, Lamizana 16, Taulava 11, Cardona 10, Borboran 9, Villanueva 5, Ramos 4, Burtscher 2, Atkins 2, Jaime 0, Poligrates 0.
Quarterscores: 19-16, 38-41, 61-62, 88-78