Alaska's Rob Dozier drives against Barako Bull's Josh Dollard. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA – Defending champion Alaska extended its winning run to three games by restraining Barako Bull in the final stretch for a 78-71 win in the PBA Commissioner’ Cup on Wednesday.
The Aces strengthened their chances of making it into the playoffs by limiting high-scoring import Josh Dollard, especially in the final minute.
Gabby Espinas and Calvin Abueva did the most damage against Barako in the pay-off period where they wiped out a 7-point deficit for the Aces.
Espinas led the Alaska locals with 14 points, while Abueva had 9 markers, 6 in the fourth quarter. Rob Dozier top-scored for Alaska with 18.
Dollard had 26 points for Barako Bull, 9 points lower than his average of 35.
Barako Bull tried to capitalize on Dozier’s limited movements when the Alaska import picked up his fifth foul with still 6:32 to go.
However, Espinas, together with Abueva, stepped up to jack the Aces lead to 70-63.
Alaska coach Luigi Trillo said that it was their defense that killed Barako Bull, which was held to just 71 points from an average of 97.2 per game.
“We did a good defensive job again,” said Trillo in the PBA website.
The win pushed the Aces closer to third-place San Mig Coffee (3-2) with a 4-3 slate. The Energy, meanwhile, dropped to their 5th loss in 7 games.
“Every game is important, not only for us but for all the teams. We got another win and it moved us to fourth. Had we lost, we would have been tied for ninth. That’s how bunched up the field is,” said Trillo.
“Still a lot of games left and we’re not out of it yet. That’s why this game was very, very important for us. For me, this is a moment-of- truth game for us,” he added.
Alaska 78 - Dozier 18, Espinas 14, Casio 10, Abueva 9, Hontiveros 8, Jazul 6, Thoss 6, Manuel 4, Baguio 3, Reyes 0, Dela Cruz 0.
Barako 71 - Dollard 26, Pennisi 12, Miller 7, Isip 6, Miranda 6, Lastimosa 5, Fortuna 2, Buenafe 2, Pena 2, Wilson 1, Marcelo 0.
Quarterscores: 13-17, 26-30, 53-50, 78-71