The Alaska Aces' Calvin Abueva goes for a shot against San Mig Coffee at the MOA Arena in Pasay Monday night. -- Photo by Mark Cristiono for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines - (UPDATE) Nipped in a down-the-wire battle the last time, Alaska Milk put up an explosive show behind the compelling exploits of import Rob Dozier and crushed San Mig Coffee, 86-67, to square up their PBA Commissioner's Cup best-of-five semifinal series last night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Fighting with warrior mentality, the Aces finally got the elusive first win over their former coach, Tim Cone, and more importantly prevented the Mixers from gaining a commanding 2-0 lead in the series.
Both series in the Final Four are now tied with a game apiece. The protagonists break the deadlocks at the resumption of the Cebuana Lhuillier PBA playoffs after the PBA All-Star Week in Digos, Davao del Sur slated May 1-6.
The Aces ended a nine-game slump in their personal battle with the Mixers on a lopsided manner, thanks largely to Dozier’s hulking performance marked by a personal tournament high of 28 points and a season-best 27 rebounds.
"I just wanna be active; go out get the rebounds, blocks and steals," said Dozier, not aware he dominated with a superb 13-of-16 field shooting.
"Finally, a breakout win for us. It's about getting over the hump, getting the monkey off our back," said Alaska coach Luigi Trillo.
It was one-sided match but certainly not devoid of drama.
With his gung-ho game and all kinds of flops, Alaska rookie Calvin Abueva got into his San Mig Coffee matchups, including James Yap. Before the rout came to an end, Leo Najorda hit Abueva with a flagrant foul.
As he shook hands with Cone after the match, Trillo said he apologized for what happened.
"It's the heat of the moment. It happens especially with both teams being competitive from players to the fans," said Trillo. "We expect battle after battle. I want them (the Aces) to be aggressive, and these guys are used to that."
The Aces did come out very aggressive, on an attack mode, enabling them to lead by as many as 23 points at 63-40 late in the third period.
Dozier and his teammates also did a good job on the other end, holding Denzel Bowles to a PBA career-low of eight points and the entire San Mig team to 43.2-percent shooting.
"Not to take anything, Bowles looked tired, and he's their life," said Trillo.
Bowles also struggled in the face of Alaska's tough defense in Game One but came through with big baskets at the finish to lift San Mig to a 71-69 nail-biter.
Dozier, however, dominated Bowles throughout this time.
The Alaska import piled up 15 points and 16 rebounds and the Aces held the Mixers to 14 points in each of the first two quarters.